Saskatchewanâ€™s two major parties have unveiled their election platforms.
The NDPâ€™s fiscal plan is to collect higher potash royalties and reinvest the proceeds in public priorities like healthcare, education and housing. Columnist Murray Mandryk notes the spectre of Erin Weir.
The NDP has expressed a willingness to discuss sharing resource revenues with First Nations. The Sask Party criticizes the NDP for not costing this possibility.
However, as Mike McCracken observes, successful resource-sharing arrangements with the Nisgaâ€™a in BC and First Nations in the Yukon took a decade to negotiate. There is no reason to believe that potential Saskatchewan negotiations would affect provincial finances during the four years covered by the NDP platform.
The Sask Partyâ€™s Seinfeld platform is a collection of miniscule announcements (and re-announcements) that could be funded out of projected budget surpluses. Greg Fingas points out the similarity to Harperâ€™s federal campaign strategy.
While the Sask Party revels in the modesty of its campaign promises, guaranteeing rock-bottom royalties for potash companies is extremely costly. It would forgo at least $700 million annually by 2015-16.
As the following table shows, the main difference between the Sask Party and NDP platforms is not the dollar amount but its allocation among various priorities.
Comparison of Platform Costs, 2015-16 ($ millions)
|Â||Â NDP||Â Sask Party|
|Â Refusing to ReviewÂ Potash Royalties||Â -Â||Â $ 700.0|
|Â Eliminating Small-Business Tax||Â $Â Â 64.0||Â –|
|Â Lowest-Cost Utility Bundle||Â $Â Â 57.0||Â –|
|Â Housing Affordability||Â $ 152.6||Â $Â 13.5|
|Â Education||Â $ 150.6||Â $Â 29.4|
|Â Healthcare||Â $ 139.9||Â $Â 14.3|
|Â Child Care||Â $Â Â 66.4||Â $Â Â Â 7.6|
|Â Highways||Â $Â Â 50.0||Â –|
|Â Agriculture||Â $Â Â 50.0||Â –|
|Â Municipal and Park Infrastructure||Â $Â Â 40.0||Â $Â Â Â 4.4|
|Â Environment||Â $Â Â 18.1||Â –|
|Â Cutting Waste||Â ($ 20.0)||Â –|
|Â Other||Â $Â Â 79.8||Â $Â Â 54.6|
|Â Total||Â $ 848.4||Â $ 823.8|
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