The Saskatchewan government made it abundantly clear in its recent budget they are into a cycle of trimming anything not seen as essential in terms of expenditures.
As an example the budget announced the Film Employment Tax Credit would be wound down, a move said to save up to $3 million this year and $8 million annually after existing credits are paid out.
At the time Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit said the decision was one of the tough ones in the budget, but added film industry was already showing a decline in the province even with the tax credit.
“I know it was a very difficult decision that was made,” he said, adding it came down to every ministry being asked where they could trim costs, and the film tax credit was one expenditure the government felt it could make.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority also recently informed the Saskatchewan standardbred and thoroughbred racing sectors that grants they have received for decades and approved for 2012 will be eliminated completely in 2013.
The Authority gives out $1.5 million in grants, the lion’s share to the thoroughbred racing in Saskatoon, with the remainder to standardbreds in Yorkton and Regina. The Yorkton Exhibition Association received $320,000 for the upcoming 2012 race season, the same grant as 2011.
In an interview with this newspaper Tim McMillan, Minister responsible for the Liquor and Gaming Authority said the decision was one of priorities.
“Largely it comes down to priority,” he told Yorkton This Week, adding “first and foremost we believe in having a balanced budget.”
McMillan said with rising costs to meet a growing population in education, long term care, and addressing health issues such as surgical wait times, the government needs to look at where it spends its money.
If you accept that the cuts are needed, then a follow-up question should be why Justice Minister Don Morgan recently announced the appointment of the three-member Constituency Boundaries Commission that will redraw the constituency boundaries for provincial elections, a process expected to add three constituencies to the electoral map in the province.
Under The Constituency Boundaries Act, 1993, the government appoints a commission to redraw the boundaries every 10 years after the release of the Census, but the focus should be to tinker with boundaries, not adding seats.
The last thing the province needs, if times are such that the Film Tax Credit and support for horse racing are cut, if the cost of three more ridings and MLAs.
As it stands each MLA represents fewer voters than all but the tiny Maritime provinces, and at about 18,000 compared to in Ontario where provincial representatives serve about 120,000.
If the Wall government is serious about saving its pennies, then new constituencies can be put on hold for a few years yet.