A frequent point brought up early in this provincial election is the topic of eliminating the provincial deficit, currently at $2.1 billion for this year, and that of austerity, making cuts to bring spending in line with revenue. Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe has pledged to bring in a balanced budget in 2024, while New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili has accused Moe of planning to implement austerity budgets, cutting social programs like health and education.
At a media availability at the Global Transportation Hub, west of Regina, Meili used the Hub, and the adjacent Regina Bypass project, as examples of profligate spending.
When asked by reporters what year he would like to eliminate Saskatchewan’s deficit, Meili responded, “We want to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible. But we want to make sure that we actually invest, now, in the people of Saskatchewan and in the things that will grow the economy. And if we commit to, you know, an arbitrary date, instead of actually committing the investments to get us to a point where our economy grows, and we can decrease that deficit, we’ll see what we’ll see under Scott Moe.
“His plan is to go down the road of austerity, he’s got a target of three to four years from now. There is no way he can reach that without deep cuts to public services, without hiking taxes on ordinary people. It’s simply not possible. And we think that’s the wrong way to go, to choke our economy, and to hurt people. We think we need to invest now.”
As for when they would get to zero deficits, Meili responded, “We’re going to move as quickly as possible to that, but with the proviso that we are not going to be cutting services for families, we’re not going to be increasing taxes, we need to make the investments now, so that we don’t go down the road of longer deficit. Scott Moe has said he will balance the deficit by that time, but he’s mistaken, if he goes down the road of austerity, either he’s going to choke the economy, balance the budget and hurt every family in Saskatchewan. But the reality is, even by doing that, he’s going to slow things down so much, our revenues will decrease, there’s no way he will achieve that goal.”
Meili promised a costed platform in the coming days. The NDP’s proposed wealth tax wouldn’t cover all of what they need, he said, “but it is a pretty big contribution.”
Moe said in Moose Jaw, “Now we’re into day three of the campaign. We do have some commitments around what we will be providing to people in the province if they choose as the Saskatchewan Party to continue as their government here in the province. We did put forward our quarterly report, which had a plan the balance by the year 2024. Later in the campaign we will be unveiling our entire costing platform, which will take into account where we were in the first quarter, adding in any of the any of the commitments that we have made up until, and including our entire platform, and we will have a commitment to balance by 2024.
“It’s a good question because this is a significant difference between us and Saskatchewan NDP as they are going on what is, quite frankly, a reckless spending initiative. They had over a billion dollars committed by day one of the campaign. Again, some additional dollars, yesterday. And on day one, they came forward with a tax hike on Saskatchewan people, introduced the tax hike as their signature platform announcement. And I think, right there on day one, you have seen the difference between the Saskatchewan NDP in the Saskatchewan Party. One party is going to tax and spend, and the Saskatchewan Party is going to continue with investing in communities across the province, doing so in a very prudent fashion and always with a plan to get back to balance here in the province.”