Holding the line or even cutting back on government employee paycheques is not going to result in substantial reduction of the provincial debt. What it could get, is the loss of a solid foot hold in rural Saskatchewan where the current governing Saskatchewan Party, reigns supreme.
The Brad Wall led party is having to walk a pretty straight line these days and that line is grey in colour, meaning that nothing is certain and nothing can be taken for granted any more.
While we are not suggesting the premier and his cohorts are losing their grip on the electorate in and around Estevan, Swift Current, Yorkton or Kindersley, they just may be having to do some fancy dances around money issues.
With a firm commitment not to raise taxes, Wall and company may have painted themselves into a proverbial corner in some respects.
Without any major revenue increases and with reduced royalties coming from the resource sector, the government may be running out of revenue options.
Like many corporations, the government, when faced with downturns in business, sound the alarm bells and begin the race to the cutting rooms.
But unlike most of today’s new corporate Canada, governments have a tougher time of it since they most often have to deal with unionized employees who are not as easily bullied into compliance with shifting rules of operation or layoffs for the sake of layoffs and a false sense of feeling that if enough cuts are made, a profit margin will return.
What the government has to learn is that they are comprised of people who are serving and working with other people and when you lose goodwill on both fronts, they are doomed to a slow demise. Perception is half the battle and when the public observes a government taking desperate measures to cut a few million dollars from those who work for them, it doesn’t translate well. It certainly leaves a negative impression when coupled with the reality that by making these cuts, government is barely making a dent in the overall debt and ongoing deficit.
What is needed is a whole new game plan and we’re not certain the provincial government is enamoured with that idea.
So what has happened is transformational change in health care delivery that will possibly save $20 to $30 million within the next two years, but only after disturbing the delivery system.
If they do the same in the Education Ministry, they can expect the same results with the same dubious savings that will probably disappear within five years as miniature empires will be rebuilt, except in different places. That’s human nature.
Big shakeups in two major portfolios to realize $40 million in savings, reeks of desperation. It also begs for some logic.
When a provincial government is already bloated at 58 seats, and then adds three more to the roll call, we on the public side of the issue, see waste. We know full well this province could be very effectively governed by 20 to 30 MLAs. Just figure out how many millions could be saved with that simple subtraction of people, empires and expenses.
Even placing someone with credibility onto the Global Transportation Hub land purchase file would have saved at least $11 million alone, without anyone other than a couple of profit-gaining insiders, breaking any sweat.
Reducing unnecessary rebates, would result in 10 times more savings than recycling education governance bodies once again.
And, of course, putting a modest, and hopefully short-term increase on a provincial sales tax, would probably serve the debt-reduction purpose while making fewer enemies.
But then, governments have never been known to embrace tough decisions. They would rather transformationally tweak.