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Home News Premier vows to eliminate small business tax until July 2022 at Prince Albert campaign stop

Premier vows to eliminate small business tax until July 2022 at Prince Albert campaign stop

Premier vows to eliminate small business tax until July 2022 at Prince Albert campaign stop
Premier Scott Moe speaks to the media during a campaign stop in Prince Albert on Saturday Oct. 3, 2020. – Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Premier Scott Moe promised that a re-elected Saskatchewan Party government would eliminate the small business tax for nearly two years during a campaign stop in Prince Albert on Saturday.

Moe said the move would provide a combined $189-million in savings to more than 31,000 small businesses, and help business owners recover from the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown.

“We need to prepare ourselves for when we are actually on the back side of this virus, and ensure that our businesses—in particular our small businesses in Saskatchewan—are in healthy financial shape,” Moe said while flanked by a group of local candidates that includes Prince Albert Carlton incumbent MLA Joe Hargrave and Prince Albert Northcote nominee Alanna Ross.

The small business tax rate currently sits at two per cent. If re-elected, Moe said they would retroactively apply the policy so it started on Oct. 1, 2020. On July 1, 2022, the tax rate would be bumped to one per cent, with a return to two per cent scheduled for July 1, 2023.

Moe said the move would provide temporary relief to small businesses, and help the province balance the budget by 2024.

“The announcements that we have put forward this week—and will continue to put forward—are to address affordability for Saskatchewan families and to do what we can to foster the economic recovery here in the province,” Moe said. “We believe that is the ballot question as we move towards the election on Oct. 26: who do you trust to (manage) the economy post-COVID here in Saskatchewan?”

Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said the goal is to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 shutdown. He believes the two year time frame is long enough to help accomplish that goal, provided the government keeps offering other support programs.

“That’s something we put a good deal of thought into and we’ve worked closely through all of these programs with our business community in a very substantial way,” he said on Saturday. “We’ve been in constant communication with the business community through COVID-19.”

Saskatchewan businesses pay a general corporate tax rate of 12 per cent on all income. However, small businesses only pay a two per cent tax rate on the first $600,000 of income. After that threshold, they pay 12 per cent.

Small business advocates like the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) said they were happy with the Saskatchewan Party’s commitment to help small business.

CFIB Western Canada vice-president Marilyn Braun-Pollard said the majority of Saskatchewan’s small business owners wanted some temporary tax relief to stimulate the post-COVID economic recovery.

“(The Saskatchewan Party’s) commitment to provide $189-million in small business tax relief is good news,” she wrote on Twitter. “CFIB looks forward to hearing about tax relief measures from other parties in the coming days.”

Moe also took aim at previous NDP governments during his announcement, saying their job creation record was one of the worst in the country before the Saskatchewan Party came to power in 2007.

Moe said they remain committed to adding 100,000 jobs by 2030—a plan they announced during the throne speech in 2019. He added that small businesses will be crucial to meeting that goal.

“We can never go back to those days when we were dead last in job creation in this province, and we won’t if a Saskatchewan Party is re-elected,” he told supporters.

There was virtually no job growth in Saskatchewan between 1986 and 2001, according to Statistics Canada Labour Force numbers compiled in a 2016 Sask Trends Monitor Report. That changed in 2002, and employment numbers grew an average of 1.6 per cent a year until 2015. That represents about 8,000 new jobs annually.

The August 2020 Labour Force Survey showed 555,800 people were employed in Saskatchewan, a year-over-year decrease of 4.6 per cent. All Canadian provinces posted year-over-over job losses in August.

While in Prince Albert Moe also faced questions about deleted social media posts made by a Saskatchewan Party candidate in Saskatoon. Online publication Press Progress published a report about Saskatoon Eastview nominee Daryl Cooper on Friday, as did the CBC. The stories focused on Facebook posts Cooper made in May speculating that COVID-19 may have been caused by 5G networks or sunspots.

The stories also reported on three tweets Copper liked. One came from a user who said they were excited to find out their neighbours were Trump supporters and QAnon followers, while another alleged that Satan was ruling the world and that a worldwide announcement about world peace and security would signal the start of the great tribulation.

Moe said he just found out about Cooper’s social media activity on Friday. He called the activity concerning, but said who knew little about the nature of the content that was shared. He added that the party would have another announcement later in the day.

Cooper resigned his nomination later in the day. The Sask. Party released a statement to the CBC saying Cooper’s views were concerning and not representative of the party’s values.

QAnon first began in 2017 on internet message board 4chan, where someone only identified as “Q” began making posts and claiming to have insider knowledge of the American president Donald Trump’s administration and his battle with the deep state. The posts have become popular on social media platforms like Facebook, causing the social media giant to remove hundreds of pages and groups linked to QAnon in August. They also announced a ban on all ads praising, supporting or representing QAnon starting Oct. 1.

YouTube also cracked down on the movement, removing tens of thousands of Q-related videos and hundreds of channels from its website. YouTube says the videos violate its hate speech policy. Twitter has also blocked QAnon content from outside websites, and suspended Q accounts found coordinating abuse or violating its rules.

Editor’s Note: this story was updated for the final time at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3.