Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saskatchewan Budget - Winners and Losers

So far the budget has been remarkably well covered from all kinds of angles, so I'll hold off on delving into too much detail about any particular area. But there are a few themes which are either worth highlighting, or pointing out to the extent they haven't been mentioned yet.

Winners

Premier's Office - Someday I'll get around to developing my own set of laws of politics. And near the top of the list will be "when a right-wing government says people need to tighten their belts, it's going back for thirds".

Selected Social Services
- The budget is far from universally beneficial for social services, and a good chunk of the nominal increases are based on increased need rather than any improvement in accessibility. But the addition of autism and child welfare funding in a cut-laden budget at least offers room for guarded praise.

Pankiwites - A hack-and-slash approach to government, combined with an apparent repudiation of the duty to consult as major changes are imposed on First Nations without even a trace of input? For the radical right, it's like Christmas in March!

Losers

SaskTel - I noted yesterday that all of the Crowns are facing a rough time - and that was without mentioning that they too are facing job cuts. But SaskTel stands out as the chief target of the Sask Party: not only is it the main Crown being sold off piece by piece (rather than merely outsourced through replacement as in the case of SaskPower), but it's being given the responsibility to handle some of SCN's money-losing mandate. Which means that SaskTel is being forced to add to its level of work with less staff, secure in the knowledge that any success will be confiscated to be dumped in the general revenue fund.

Film Industry - The NDP has already criticized the Wall government for driving away 70% of what was a thriving industry just a couple of years earlier. But with the slimination of SCN as a television channel, there will be even less opportunity for film professionals to work in the province - meaning that this budget may be the blow that kills off Saskatchewan's film industry entirely.

Public Safety - The outsourcing of inspections for elevators, amusement park rides and boilers can be done one of two ways: either it can increase costs as layers of government contract management and private profit are added to the expense of actually carrying out the inspections, or it can involve government washing its hands of the issue and creating incentives for corner-cutting. And with the Sask Party in full-on slasher mode, Saskatchewan citizens would be well advised to start taking the stairs.

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