Several critics have expressed disappointment with the Saskatchewan government’s plan to put $500 in the pocket of every resident over the age of 18.
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) said the tax credit checks could have been spent to help the school system.
“I think a lot of parents are going to wonder if this is the best use of the money,” said STF president Samantha Becotte.
According to Becotte, school divisions are “crying” because of a lack of resources.
“I would ask the government why they didn’t put that money back into education and the use of our province,” she said.
On Monday, Premier Scott Moe announced the Affordability Tax Credit initiative in a video posted to social media.
The announcement comes as the province forecasts a surplus of $1.04 billion for 2022-23, with a sharp increase in non-renewable resource revenues expected.
“It gives every individual and family the ability to make their own decisions about where it helps them,” Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said.
Harpauer said checks will be mailed out by the end of November.
“It was basically a way of distributing the funds in a very fair and equitable way,” she said.
The provincial NDP said the Saskatchewan party should have provided the relief months ago, calling it inadequate, criticizing the government for sitting on ‘billions in windfall revenue’.
“There should have been significant long-term relief for the people of Saskatchewan with the cost of living,” said NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon.
“An investment was needed that addresses the health care challenge…and for the children returning to the classroom who are so dramatically cut off and impacted by the Saskatchewan party.”
The province released its first quarter financial update on Tuesday morning. The government projects revenues of $19.17 billion for the year, up $2.02 billion from budget.
Dale Eisler, senior policy fellow at the University of Regina’s Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, said the checks “obviously will be very popular.”
“As we all know, people are personally under significant financial pressure due to inflation in recent months,” Eisler said. “Five hundred dollars for every adult in Saskatchewan will of course be welcome.”
Eisler said the move would have a positive political effect, as its timing is very political.
“But is this the best way to spend large sums of public funds?” he said.
“There are a lot of pressures, for example, on the healthcare system, so could those resources be better spent on these kinds of issues?”