The leaders of Saskatchewan’s two contending political parties may have been a stone’s throw from each other as they released their election platforms Friday, but they were quick to emphasize the distance between their policies.
Standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling window at Saskatoon’s Remai Modern art museum, Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe promised millions in new tax credits and rebates if his group wins the Oct. 26 election. This while eliminating the $2.1 billion provincial deficit by 2024-25.
Outside the building and down some stairs near the edge of the South Saskatchewan River, NDP Leader Ryan Meili pledged spending increases for health care and schools, while taking more time to dig the province out of the red.
“We’re confident that the investments we’re making are going to contribute to economic growth and allow us to reduce the deficit quickly and come to balance early in our second term,” Meili said, while refusing to set a specific date.
“Making these steps to invest in child care, in home care, in health care and education that’ll put people to work. It’ll grow our economy. And it’ll make sure that we will come out of this well.”
Meili has attacked Moe for his plan to deal with the economic headwinds caused the by the COVID-19 pandemic through austerity and cuts. But Moe characterized the NDP as reckless spenders with no credible plan to deal with the deficit.
“Job numbers are out today – 6.8 per cent in unemployment rate. We are leading the nation in the unemployment rate. The recovery is under way here in this province,” said Moe.
He has committed to introduce a new tax credit for home renovations and provide a 10 per cent rebate to SaskPower customers on their bills, which the party has framed as a plan to boost economic growth and affordability.
Before the campaign began, finance officials said the four-year timeline to eliminate the deficit was based on assumptions that the spread of COVID-19 will remain low and major economic lockdowns will be avoided.
On Friday, Moe refused to say what he would do if the revenue forecasts inked into his platform fall short of expectations.
“I am not going to answer a hypothetical,” he said.
“We are confident in the numbers that we have put forward before the people of this province. We are confident in the economic recovery.”
He said many of his party’s promises, like the electricity rebate and a cut on the small-business tax rate, are time limited and not permanent.
“We’re as confident, I would say, as anyone in the country in these revenue projections.”
The Saskatchewan Party says it’s going to mail copies of its platform to households in the province before election day.