YORKTON - So indications from the province, as has been the case for some time, is that residents of Saskatchewan over age 18 can still expect to receive the $500 cheques sometime in November.
Of course November is politically an ideal time to send out cheques coming just weeks before the December holiday season.
On one hand a cheque arriving before the added costs of holiday gifts and table fare is going to earn the government a chunk of good will, which of course the Saskatchewan Party in this case, will be hoping is remembered the next time the province goes to the polls, resulting in at least a few extra ‘Xs’ in their favour on the ballot.
It’s also timely cash in terms of the economy. Most people will spend the cash on the holidays, and if not for a nicer present or two, then it will disappear into the economy paying higher food costs and let’s not forget offsetting hikes in utilities, meaning out of one government pocket and into another Crown controlled one.
While we of course are going to welcome the cheques, it’s really not the government dolling out its cash to help the populace.
This is the government we elected taking our money, and handing back to us.
It might be dollars the government has collected in taxes from people across the province, or from other sources it manages on our behalf, but this is just some of our money coming back to us for a one-time, short term, bonus.
Just when the cheques are arriving remains a bit of a pre-holiday mystery, but the province reiterated their plans to issue the affordability relief during its Speech from the Throne to open the Legislature.
In that address delivered by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty last Wednesday, the government included a pledge to introduce The Income Tax (Affordability) Act to provide for delivery of the $500 cheques to residents.
“Saskatchewan people should benefit when resource prices are high. That’s why my government announced a four-point affordability plan to:
• Deliver a $500 Saskatchewan Affordability Tax Credit cheque to everyone age 18 and older;
• Continue to exempt fitness and gym memberships and other activities from the Provincial Sales Tax;
• Extend the reduction of the small business tax rate; and
• Pay down up to $1 billion in operating debt, saving nearly $50 million a year in interest costs.
The debt pay down is likely the most positive point, but the $500 cheques are what we are all excited about. It has the feel of found money.
But, alas it’s like money found under the couch cushions, it was not left by a magical elf. It was our money, and the government is using it at least in part to buy our good will with our own money.