Tax group calls on Sask. to drop PST on construction after Ottawa gives break on rental projects

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said a broad application of the PST is necessary to guarantee fair and reliable revenue for the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling upon the Saskatchewan government to drop the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) on construction projects. The call came after the federal government in Ottawa decided to drop GST on the construction of new rental apartment buildings.

“It is not often we get good news on tax relief from Ottawa, but we think Premier Scott Moe should follow suit on this one,” said Gage Haubrich, Prairie director with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

The CTF referenced the premier’s recent promises after the by-elections to make life in Saskatchewan more affordable and lowering housing costs.

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“In Saskatchewan, over one in six households spends 30 per cent or more of their total household income on housing. Affordability is on the forefront of everyone’s minds,” Haubrich said.

Haubrich specifically pointed to the Saskatchewan government’s tax increase on construction labour and materials in 2017. Reversing that tax would be an easy decision, he said.

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The Saskatchewan government recently saw a drop in renewable resource revenue, but PST revenue has been on the rise year over year. Haubrich says PST revenue was up $300 million from last year. He believes the government has the breathing room to lower PST on construction.

In a statement, Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said that the Saskatchewan government believes in a broad application of PST.

“…to ensure that a fairly applied, reliable, and sustainable source of revenue is available to finance vital public services, including grants to the municipal sector, health care and education.

Harpauer also said, “Saskatchewan is the most affordable province in Canada when considering taxes, utilities, and housing costs… The Saskatchewan government remains committed to working closely with the construction sector to understand ongoing challenges and work on potential solutions where possible, while balancing various fiscal considerations.”

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