Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Saskatchewan 2016 - NDP Platform Review

I mentioned here that any attempt to review the Saskatchewan Party's platform ran into the problem that there simply wasn't anything worth analyzing, as two pages of conditional promises were buried under thirty of spin.

In contrast, the NDP's platform (PDF) includes plenty of meaningful ideas. And while the NDP's primary focus may not be where one would hope, there's ample material which could form the foundation of a highly productive term of government.

That said, let's start with the part which may be frustrating for voters seeking primarily to know what the NDP would plan to do: the first section is dedicated to "cutting Sask Party waste" rather than the planned uses for the money saved. That may serve the purpose of giving platform readers a reminder of the case against Brad Wall, but it delays any discussion of the NDP's own priorities until later on.

So what are those priorities once they do emerge? In addition to previous commitments to mental health, First Nations education and emergency services, some of the more noteworthy points include:
  • A slightly more progressive income tax system, with an increased personal exemption amount (which seems like a popular policy choice, if seldom my preferred use of fiscal capacity), balanced out by a new tax bracket for people making $175,000 and up;
  • Directly creating 2,000 child care spaces (along with a registry to assess need) and 2,500 affordable and social housing units, while also investing in hospitals and long-term care homes;
  • Promoting Saskatchewan businesses through procurement policies and "Buy Local" initiatives, while also expanding incubator funding;
  • Conditionally eliminating small business taxes only for corporations which have three or more employees to ensure a direct connection to jobs; and
  • Adopting a Housing First policy and testing a basic income as part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.
Lest there be any doubt, there's room to be more ambitious or make better use of available resources in a number of areas. The NDP is paralleling the Sask Party's promise to let seniors defer property taxes, holding off on any royalty rate increases even in the course of promising reviews, and making a weaker commitment to increasing the minimum wage than was found in the Alberta NDP's winning platform last year.

But if the NDP's platform may not get Saskatchewan to my ideal destination in a single term, it does suggest an important change in direction toward serving people rather than corporate backers. And that contrast deserves far more attention than the distractions which have dominated the campaign so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment