The one thing about politics you can expect the unexpected.
In terms of housing that’s certainly the case here in Saskatchewan.
The federal Liberals are vilified by Premier Scott Moe, the Saskatchewan Party and huge swaths of the public for doing nothing good, and frankly the suggestion is often everything the federal government does is destructive to the nation.
Ah, but wait just a minute, has that changed in terms of stimulating housing?
The federal government recently announced it would remove GST from new rental apartment buildings.
From the business perspective of building that has to be a positive as it directly reduces the cash required, and in the process should help profitability.
Certainly in Saskatchewan affordable housing is an ongoing concern, and rental units can be one element of addressing the needs, so the feds should be getting some positive reviews.
By contrast the Saskatchewan Party imposed the provincial sales tax on construction labour in the province in 2017. The government also imposes PST on construction materials.
So everything positive noted by the GST cut above, has been the opposite in Saskatchewan for more than a half decade.
As a result the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the provincial government to remove provincial sales tax from construction labour essentially doubling down on the stimulus to new builds the GST cut will hopefully spur.
Certainly housing is foundational in many ways.
You would have much trouble finding organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, or Big Brothers and Sisters, or even education professionals who would vouch for how stability in terms of housing is a huge thing for families.
And in past interviews with staff at Bruno’s Place, the emergency shelter in Yorkton, a big part of their efforts is helping get their clients on the path to a permanent home.
Healthy families, start with a secure, safe home. That is why programs such as Habitat For Humanity are so successful in helping families.
While what the feds are trying may not work – it may just be a business boon – with rents on new builds still too high to help those needing housing most, but more units should have at least a ripple effect that helps.
Now it’s time for Moe and company to follow the federal Liberal lead – as discomforting as that might be for the Saskatchewan Party – and claw back the PST on at least rentals.
And, while they’re at it, why not on starter homes as well?