(8 January 2014)
2013 was a very, very good year for Saskatchewan. Our provincial population grew by nearly 20,000 people, our unemployment rate was the lowest in the country and our economy was not only strong but diverse with job creation, exports and manufacturing all on track to hit new record levels. Producers even harvested the largest crop in our province’s history.
With projections of steady growth in 2014, there is much optimism in the province. Saskatchewan continues to increase trade with the rest of the world and economic forecasters are predicting a 2.6 per cent increase in the provincial GDP this year. Our government will continue to support this growth by encouraging further diversification of our resource-based economy, marketing the province throughout the world and maintaining a competitive tax and regulatory environment that encourages new investment and new jobs.
Going forward, it is important to note that the economy and the budget are two different things. Even though the economy is strong, resource revenue projections are down for 2014 and, as a result, the province will face some budget challenges.
The purpose of growth is to secure a better quality of life for all Saskatchewan people. We’ve got a growth plan, which is working, so we’ll carry on with the work necessary to achieve the targets we have laid out there. Where we need to do better is meeting the challenges of growth in terms of infrastructure, healthcare and education. We’re committed to that.
One other thing our government is looking at is the introduction of a long-term savings fund. The idea would be to save some non-renewable resource revenues for future generations. One recommendation is to cap the amount of resource revenue that goes to daily spending and then, once that extra money is put away, no government would be allowed to spend the principal. Other provinces, like Alberta, and countries including Norway have put in place and seen success with similar funds.
Our government remains committed to keeping taxes low, something we are accomplishing through the continued indexation of the provincial income tax system. Individual taxpayers now pay no Saskatchewan income tax on their first $18,650 of income while a family of four pays no Saskatchewan income tax on their first $48,320 of income. This is the highest tax-free income threshold for a family of four in Canada. By the end of 2014, a family of four with $50,000 income will have saved about $15,000 through our government’s various tax reductions.
114,000 low-income Saskatchewan residents have been removed from the tax rolls since 2008 and, overall, Saskatchewan residents have saved more than $300 million through lower personal income taxes.
The influenza season this year started late but is now in full swing. We encourage Saskatchewan residents to get a flu shot if they haven’t already done so, and practice good hand hygiene to help avoid getting sick. Influenza cases are increasing and H1N1 is the predominant strain circulating. Health officials say children under five years of age, as well as young and middle-aged adults, are more likely to be susceptible to virus.
The influenza vaccine is available through public health clinics as well as some physicians’ and nurse practitioners’ offices. Health regions are scheduling additional public health clinics as needed. Call HealthLine – 811 – or your health region for clinic dates and times. You can also visit Saskatchewan.ca/flu for further information.
If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Nancy.
Past Legislative Reports