Saskatchewan needs strengthened municipal transparency

Author: 2021/03/09

REGINA, SK: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the Saskatchewan government to strengthen transparency for municipal governments by proactively posting basic financial documents online. The recommendation comes as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation today released a report detailing spending in hundreds of Saskatchewan municipalities.

 “Taxpayers always have the right to know how their leaders are spending their communities’ money and that information should be absolutely accessible online,” said Todd MacKay, Prairie Director for the CTF. “Many municipalities are proactively posting basic financial documents, but others, for a variety of reasons, are struggling.

 “Alberta and Ontario post municipal documents and hundreds of First Nations communities provide this transparency. The Saskatchewan government already has financial statements from every municipality – it’s time to put them online so that everyone can hold their local leaders accountable.”

 Saskatchewan cities are already providing transparency online with 16 out of 16 cities posting their financial documents. The CTF was able to secure financial statements from 146 out of 296 rural municipalities; 59 out of 147 towns; 23 out of 41 resort villages; and, only 30 out of 248 villages.

 The Ministry of Government Relations has publicly stated that it is working on a web portal where municipal financial documents can be published, but it has yet to be done.

 The two municipalities that spent the most in Saskatchewan were the RM of Heart’s Hill, No. 352, and the RM of Oakdale, No. 302, who spent $17,838 and $17,283 respectively per person in 2019. The lowest spending RM over the past three years was the RM of Lake Lenore, spending only $740 per person in 2018.

 Between Saskatchewan’s two largest cities, Saskatoon annually spent more per person than Regina, with $2,977 spent in 2019 compared to $2,766 in Regina. However, Regina’s annual per-person spending increased by about 26 per cent since 2015, compared to six per cent for Saskatoon. Among medium and small cities, Swift Current had the highest spending at $3,070 per person in 2019.

 “Municipalities really need to be careful on their spending especially while taxpayers are struggling through the pandemic,” said MacKay. “Citizens can’t afford any more tax increases, so municipalities should be spending very carefully in the years to come.”

The CTF’s full report on Saskatchewan municipalities can be found at this link:http://www.taxpayer.com/media/Municipal-Spending-Saskatchewan.pdf