On April 10, 2018 the Saskatchewan government tabled its 2018-19 budget. It forecasts revenues at $14.24 billion, with spending at $14.61 billion, leaving a $365 million deficit.
Provincial sales tax remains steady at 6% but the PST exemption has been eliminated for used light vehicles with the exception of used vehicles sold privately and purchased for less than $5,000. Exemptions will also be made for used vehicles gifted between family members.
However, the budget does restore the trade-in-allowance when determining PST. This means PST is only applied to the difference between the value of the trade-in and the selling price of the vehicle being purchased.
The PST exemption on Star Energy Appliances has also been discontinued effective April 11th. PST will also be applied to the retail sale of cannabis, although revenue generated from this has not been included in the budget because there is still considerable uncertainty as to how much will be raised.
The Saskatchewan Party government announced a 3.5% wage reduction to public sector employee compensation in last year’s budget, amounting to a projected savings of $250 million, but that plan does not appear in this year’s budget.
The government is aiming for $70 million in compensation savings over the next two years. It says this will be achieved through “efficiency initiatives” and “overtime management.” Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer told CBC, “There are no layoffs related to this budget.”
There will be $5.77 billion more for health care spending in the new budget with the biggest chunk for the newly created Saskatchewan Health Authority. The province is also committing $11.4 million in new money for mental health initiatives, which the province said will cover the cost of hiring 40 new full-time positions. Furthermore, HIV medications will now be 100% covered at an additional cost of $600,000. In addition, children under the age of six with Autism Spectrum Disorder are now eligible for $4,000 in government money per year, which is a total investment of $2.8 million.
The Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement designed to help low income families and people with disabilities pay their rent will be replaced by a program co-developed with the federal government slated for implementation in 2020. As of July 1, 2018, the province will stop taking applications, but clients enrolled before then will continue to receive benefits.
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|Written by Sheryl Smolkin|
|Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.|