The government of Saskatchewan is currently undertaking a controversial overhaul of the province’s labour legislation into the mammoth omnibus Bill 85. But those that might be concerned about the rather rash decision to overturn 107 years of labour legislation in the period of a few months need not worry, because what the Saskatchewan government is actually doing is modernizing our labour laws. That’s a relief, “modernizing” has such a new shiny ring to it! Who could be against “modernizing” anything? This legislation must really be cutting edge stuff, thinking outside-the-box, labour legislation 2.0 and all that! So what innovative and pioneering changes are in this legal basket of advanced modernity?
Entries Tagged as 'Saskatchewan'
While Finance Minister Ken Krawetz characterized today’s provincial budget as an example of “balanced growth,” and NDP Finance critic Trent Wotherspoon likened it to a “credit card budget,” perhaps the best metaphor to explain today’s fiscal decisions would be “paradox of plenty.”
What the hell is that you say? Well, the “paradox of plenty” or “resource curse” has usually been used to describe our petroleum-endowed neighbor to the west, but today’s budget – while seemingly pedestrian – should force us to ask ourselves if we are not suffering under the same fiscal delusions as our Alberta cousins.
Where does the Saskatchewan government stand on the privatization of provincial Crown corporations? You’d be hard pressed to come up with a definitive answer after the government’s partial privatization of Information Services Corporation (ISC), the introduction of new private liquor stores and Premier Wall’s end-of-year comments that privatization deserves a “rational, pragmatic and non-ideological” public debate. That this rash of privatization is occurring all while the government is supposedly bound by it’s support for The Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act, which is intended to preserve “public ownership of our major crown corporations” is even more surreal. When does a government’s actions begin to speak louder than its words? Despite the government’s rhetorical commitment to the Crowns, it certainly seems like privatization is on the agenda, and not only on ‘the margins.” As Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk insightfully observes regarding Premier Wall’s recent call for a public debate on crown privatization:
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich and I have the following joint op-ed in today’s Regina Leader-Post (page A10).
It’s been fourteen years since I first wrote into The Leader-Post advocating a minimum-wage increase.
Why higher wages make economic sense
Recent Saskatchewan government news releases trumpet record numbers for wholesale trade, building permits and exports. But as Labour Day approaches, we should consider that many Saskatchewan workers do not share in the prosperity they create.
I had the following comments in yesterday’s front-page story on Vale’s decision to postpone its proposed $3-billion potash mine at Kronau, Saskatchewan:
Regina economist Erin Weir, who is widely expected to run for the leadership of the provincial NDP, said in a statement Friday that the Vale announcement “represents a failure of the Saskatchewan government’s approach of almost giving away the resource to encourage companies to dig it out of the ground as quickly as possible.”
“The silver lining is that Vale will not increase potash supply as quickly as expected. A tighter potash market likely means higher potash prices and even larger profits for existing producers,” he said.
Agrium reports that it paid half as much to the people of Saskatchewan in the second quarter as it had in the same quarter of last year. The company’s quarterly “potash profit and capital tax” payment dropped to $8 million from $15 million a year ago.
Agrium’s only potash mine is in Saskatchewan. The value of its potash sales has barely changed: $246 million in the second quarter compared to $259 million a year ago. As a percentage of sales, “potash profit and capital tax” fell to just 3% from 6%.
Consumer prices decreased in June from May in nine provinces (all except Alberta). But Saskatchewan was tied for the smallest monthly price decline: -0.3%.
Compared to the rest of Canada, Saskatchewan residents experienced nearly the largest increase in the cost of living over the past year and received a relatively small break last month.
Today’s Mosaic quarterly report provides further evidence that the Government of Saskatchewan should improve its royalty and tax structure to collect a better return on the province’s non-renewable resources like potash.
Despite higher potash prices, Mosaic paid lower royalties and resource taxes to Saskatchewan last quarter than in the same quarter of last year. In the three months ended May 31, 2012, Mosaic paid $100 million in provincial resource charges from over a billion dollars ($1,037 million) of potash sales.
Columnist Murray Mandryk wrote, “Given the amount of power Bill Boyd now has in his super-economy portfolio, he may be one fluffy Persian cat and remote desert island shy of becoming the political equivalent of a James Bond villain.” Does that make the target of his letters the political equivalent of James Bond?
Monday’s Regina Leader-Post featured the interprovincial man of mystery’s response:
Case for Royalty Hikes
Last week, I had the following letter in The Globe and Mail:
Oil sands royalties
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ most recent Statistical Handbook indicates that, in 2010, this industry sold $101-billion of oil and gas but paid only $12-billion in resource royalties.
Even Senator Pamela Wallin’s higher figure of $22-billion (Oil Sands’ Benefits – letter, May 12), which also includes general taxes applicable to all industries, amounts to only one-fifth of the resource value extracted by oil and gas companies.