Broten announces tax and utility affordability help

A break for middle-income families, a small tax increase for $175,000-plus individuals

NDP Leader Cam Broten made a commitment to middle-class affordability Friday, promising a modest tax adjustment that will lower taxes for 70 per cent of Saskatchewan households.

Broten also promised to make families’ monthly utility bills more affordable, using Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations to help with the cost of living. 

“Despite years of record revenue, the Sask. Party let middle-class and low-income families down when it came to the cost of living,” said Broten. “I hear frustration and disappointment from people all over the province who say that a select few benefitted from the boom – and the rest of us are just paying more.

“It’s time to make middle-class families a priority. It’s time to shift direction, and move towards making life a little easier every month for everyday families. I’ll ask the wealthiest three per cent of households to pay just a bit more in taxes, so the vast majority of families can have a bit of a break.”

Broten’s tax adjustment will increase the basic personal exemption, allowing Saskatchewan workers to earn an additional $500 before they have to pay taxes, and create a slightly higher tax bracket for individual earnings over $175,000. The result of those changes will mean 70 per cent of people will pay a little less, while just the top three per cent will pay a little more.

Broten also announced that he’ll use Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations to incrementally lower the cost of utilities, matching or beating the lowest-cost utility bundle in the nation by 2020.

And, by protecting SaskTel and its customers, Broten said he’ll prohibit SaskTel from adopting usage-based Internet billing. That billing structure, which is becoming common throughout Canada, charges people based on how much data they use.

“The Internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity these days,” said Broten. “For businesses, students, schools and for families, choking off the ability to go online or putting a meter on usage in order to charge more is simply not on, and it’s not going to happen on my watch.”

Affordability has become a major concern under the Sask. Party.

In 2007, Saskatchewan had the lowest-cost utility bundle in Canada, beating Manitoba – the next lowest – by $40. Today, Saskatchewan families pay $400 more per year, on average, than families in the province next door. 

Under the Sask. Party, the average family’s electricity bills have gone up $308 per year – a 35 per cent increase. The average auto insurance bill has gone up $222 per year – a 25 per cent increase.

Broten said the NDP election platform will cut Sask. Party waste, put a few more dollars into the pockets of everyday families, and fix and invest in things that matter most to people – like health care and education – so families can count on excellent public services without waits and without paying extra.

“With the Sask. Party, we’re all paying more, and getting less,” said Broten. “It’s time to refocus the priorities on everyday Saskatchewan families. These adjustments are modest, but they’re a step in the right direction.” 

Read the details here.