Local MLAs Discuss Budget's Effect on City

The 2018-2019 provincial budget is on track, keeps the economy growing and holds no surprises for Moose Jaw.

“There are no surprises or anything they (City of Moose Jaw) they would find upsetting,” Warren Michelson MLA for Moose Jaw North said.

The budget keeps the economy strong with the $365 million projected deficit, revenues up slightly and expenses down Michelson stated.

“We’re on target where we plan to go on,” he said.

“Yes it’s a good news budget. It’s an on track budget as projected from last year,” Michelson said.

For homeowners and commercial property owners there will be no increase in the education portion of their property taxes.

Additionally the personal, corporate and ‘sin taxes’ on tobacco and alcohol will not be going up. There will be no carbon tax.

Moose Jaw Wakamow MLA Greg Lawrence pointed out the City will receive $5.9 million this year in Revenue Sharing. Double than in 2008.

The Province provides one percent of the PST to be shared amongst municipal governments based upon a per capita formula. Moose Jaw will receive slightly less than 2017-2018 because the population has not grown as fast as other centres. Presently the Province is planning a review with municipalities to create a better formula.

Lawrence pointed to higher spending in healthcare as beneficial to Moose Jaw and area residents.

“We spent a lot of money in healthcare in the last 10 years and continue doing that and see the people of Saskatchewan have access to high quality healthcare,” he said.

Asked about the doctor shortage in Moose Jaw he said the province continues to work on international recruiting and programs to retain Saskatchewan trained physicians.

“Moose Jaw has done innovative things. With a residency program that allows new residents to train outside of Regina and Saskatoon. We kept the last four that came out of that,” he said.

Overall healthcare has had “excellent savings on the administrative side we don’t have 12 regions we only have one,” Michelson stated.

The local school divisions will see increases in their preventative funding. With Prairie South increasing 14 percent and Holy Trinity up 18 percent from last year. The capital funds are to assist with the renewal of their facilities.

Prairie South will see a decreased enrollment grant of $35,000 based up less students while Holy
Trinity will see an increase of 3.5 percent.

The provincial budget has earmarked $10 million towards moving 49 of the remaining 79 residents of the Valleyview Centre to community based care.

“We want to make sure everybody is comfortable. We want to ensure the family and resident is comfortable,” Michelson stated, adding the number is only a target.

“We did not want to put an end date on this we want to make sure this is appropriate for residents and families,” he said.

Lawrence “we’re the first province to use a resident first approach. Individualized plans for each and every resident. We’re doing the right thing to insure these residents fit in wherever they go.”

Asked if the residents will remain in Moose Jaw said it was all up to “an individualized plan where their families want them.”

Regarding speculation there was going to be a big rush to move all residents out and close Valleyview quickly Lawrence said it was untrue.

“That’s very inaccurate we are going to do what is right for the folks who live out there,” Lawrence stated.

Cannabis taxes are unknown at the present time because of the wait on federal legalization.

When the federal government passes legalization the emphasis will be on eliminating the current illicit market which is still unknown how large it is, he said.

Michelson stated concerns raised by the Moose Jaw Police Service regarding the cost of enforcement of the new cannabis laws have been taken to the Ministry of Justice by both MLAs.

The Provincial Budget projects $14.24 billion an increase of $80 million from last year with $14.61 billion in expenses down $200 million from last year.

The 6 percent PST will be charged on used light vehicles and EnergyStar appliances after the removal of two exemptions. The tax will not be charged on vehicles gifted from family, private sales under $5000 and the value of used vehicle trade ins will not be charged on vehicle purchases.

Healthcare will see $5.77 billion spent with $11.4 million of new funding spent on new mental health initiatives.

The rural crime strategy will see new spending of $4.9 million.

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