Schmidt added that it was nice to see specifics on policy affecting the Battlefords.

“They’ve really focused on health care and crime, and also addressing shortages in education,” he said.

Provincial Chamber network

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, like the local chamber, was largely pleased with the province’s budget, particularly in regards to economic recovery from the pandemic and public investment in areas like capital infrastructure.

“The last couple of years have been a struggle,” acting CEO Elissa LaLiberte said in a media release this week. “[We’re] happy that Saskatchewan is looking to get back on track and believes the 2022-23 Budget is a reasonable step in this direction.”

One area of concern the chamber did note was the effect of small tax increases on businesses already struggling.

“A little increase in education property tax, the return of the small business tax rate, and a bit more PST starts to add up,” LaLiberte continued. “Saskatchewan needs to get back to a balanced budget and the province has avoided large scale tax increases, but we caution that the province needs to monitor the marginal effective tax rate as an uncompetitive position that will weaken our recovery over the long term.”

PST and health

On the question of broadening the PST to events like concerts, movies and Riders games, a move that’s drawn criticism, Harpauer told battlefordsNOW that this isn’t going to have a significant effect on Saskatchewan residents. She said the change is being targeted at major events and activities and will largely result in only one or two purchases a year for patrons, in order to finance $21 million in funding to address health care needs.

“It doesn’t affect your trade shows, small town rodeos or anything like that,” she said. “It’s your larger events and big ticket items, so it’s not something that any one individual is going to do a number of in any given year.”

Harpauer also answered questions on other aspects of health care funding on Friday. On the discussion of encouraging high quality nutrition and finding affordable solutions for families, she said it will have to be in partnership with Public Health and that awareness has already shifted considerably over time.

“There was effort a couple of decades ago to go to a wellness model, to prevent rather than have [so many people needing treatment],” she said. “Maybe we need to revisit the message that was given at that time, but we should also really focus on awareness.”

Other questions asked during the chamber luncheon included topics like infrastructure and health care staff.

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