The Saskatchewan NDP are once again urging the provincial government to look at the cost of living for residents in the province.
“It’s been nearly six months that we’ve been calling on this government to act on the generational affordability crisis crippling this province and impacting so many families during what should be a summer of fun and enjoyment,” the Sask. NDP economic critic Aleana Young said.
As inflation brings the price of fuel, groceries and utilities up for everyone, the Sask. NDP is calling for three big changes from the provincial government to help with the cost of living.
“Saskatchewan people are facing this serious hardship and need and deserve relief,” said NDP MLA Trent Wotherspoon.
The first change they want to see is at the pumps.
“We’re calling on the government to suspend the fuel tax,” said Wotherspoon, noting the 15 cents a litre reduction that other provinces have implemented.
The NDP is also calling for a change to how families are charged for food and clothing.
“We’re calling the government to scrap the PST on restaurants and children’s clothing,” said Wotherspoon.
The other big point of discussion in the rising living costs has been energy consumption and energy rates. Young pointed to the rising taxes and more specifically, the increase in cost for both SaskPower and SaskEnergy in the province.
“What makes Saskatchewan unique is the fact that we have publicly owned Crown utilities,” Young said. “The government has the ability to use our Crown corporations to make life more affordable.
“What we are calling on the government to do today, is to immediately rebate the $22 million dividend they stripped from SaskEnergy and to commit to quarterly reviews of utility rates like other provinces in Canada are doing.”
The Government of Saskatchewan issued a statement Wednesday on the requests from the Sask NDP, as well as on the affordability crisis as a whole.
The government stated the following:
- Premier Scott Moe and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer have both indicated that as we near the end of the first quarter, we will be looking at approaches that will benefit all Saskatchewan people.
- In 2021, Saskatchewan had the lowest-cost utility bundle in Canada for a family of four.
- SaskEnergy’s proposed rate increase would see their commodity rate rise to $4.20/GJ, 24 per cent less than the proposed commodity rate equivalent in Manitoba of $5.23/GJ.
- If the NDP did their homework, they would know that even with the proposed increase, Saskatchewan customers will continue to pay the lowest natural gas rates in Canada.
- The Government of Saskatchewan has accepted the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel’s recommendation to increase SaskPower’s rates for the first time since 2018.
- World events have caused a significant rise in the price of natural gas, and with 42 per cent of Saskatchewan’s electricity coming from natural gas-fueled facilities, SaskPower requires additional revenue to maintain reliable operations.
- In the fall of 2020, the NDP voted against our government’s commitment to lower power rates by 10 per cent for one year.