Moe proves he’s listening by taking the PST off many insurance premiums
Premier Scott Moe is soft-spoken, but he’s clearly listening and his actions are speaking volumes.
In the early days of the Saskatchewan Party leadership campaign, Moe heard from an entrepreneur who explained PST charges on insurance benefits for employees would mean hiring fewer employees.
“It was at that point in time that I really realized the impact of what we were doing on small business,” said Moe. “That’s when we started to search real hard for some other alternatives.”
Cynics always question epiphanies on the road to election that too often fade while in office. But Moe didn’t forget what he heard on the campaign trail. Nor did he procrastinate.
“Our government will help families and small businesses save money, invest and help our province grow,” stated Moe in a release issued less than a month after becoming premier. “Part of that commitment is to exempt agriculture, life and health insurance from PST.”
The government’s decision to take PST charges off life, health and agricultural insurance, will save Saskatchewan taxpayers $65 million this year and $120 million per year thereafter. The province is even refunding PST charges on those premiums collected so far.
Everyone with life and health insurance will save money, but this is particularly important for farmers. Insurance bills for farmers can easily run into six digits so PST on those premiums run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Taking the PST off farm insurance makes producers more competitive, but it also makes it easier to get the protection they need if they get hit with drought or hail.
Moe is doing the right thing by taking the PST off many insurance premiums and he’s also doing it the right way. All of the Sask. Party leadership candidates agreed that they needed to address the issue, but they presented very different plans to accomplish that goal. Some suggested replacing the PST on insurance with other tax increases while others suggested taking longer to balance the budget. Moe is taking the harder, but better way.
“Our fiscal plan remains on track, even with this reinstatement of the PST exemption on crop, life and health insurance,” stated Moe.
During the campaign, Moe committed to controlling spending by reducing the size of government primarily through attrition. He had enough confidence in his plan to sign a taxpayers’ protection pledge to balance the operational budget on schedule next year and start paying down the debt a few years later. He also promised not to raise taxes.
There is, of course, more to work to do. Saskatchewan families and businesses will be left paying millions in PST on home and auto insurance. That question came up on the campaign trail as well and Moe agreed it would be “ideal” to take the PST off all insurance premiums after the budget is balanced. But cutting the PST bill on insurance by more than $100 million is an important first step.
It’s also important to consider Moe’s move in the national context. Saskatchewan’s neighbours in both Alberta and Manitoba are raising taxes, especially through the carbon tax. Both are running deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars with no specific plan to get back to balance. After less than a month in office, Moe is already taking Saskatchewan in a much better direction by lowering taxes and dealing with the deficit.
Moe is listening. He heard people when they said it’s wrong to charge PST on insurance. He acted accordingly. If Moe keeps listening, the province will be better for it.