WEYBURN - The Saskatchewan Party has an opportunity to right a wrong that they put forward in this spring’s budget, and for the sake of families and the mental and physical health of all of us, they need to do it.
Out of a wish to collect more tax dollars to help bolster the province’s finances, they have applied the provincial sales tax to activities and events they ought not to be touching.
The PST will be applied to a whole range of events that include concerts, recreational activities, gym memberships, even Riders games and rodeos.
The tax won’t take effect until October 1st, but when it does, there may well be a very detrimental effect on the venues and industries involved.
Consider the costs that exhibition associations, sports teams, gyms and concert venues and artists paid in the last two years of COVID restrictions. This was a very dark, very bleak time for them and for everyone as they dealt with a worldwide pandemic.
Only now are these organizations and venues and artists beginning to rebound, and to start recouping some of the massive losses incurred by this virus – not to mention the extremely high cost in mental health, in jobs and to the economy in general.
Activities like going to a gym to get back in shape, or to attend a live music concert or to see a live sporting event are all important to people, for their mental health and for the opportunity just to be with friends, family and with other community members.
Is this really the time to bring out a new level of taxation, to make it more difficult for people who are already struggling financially?
Here in Weyburn, the price of recreation, such as to use the Leisure Centre and the Credit Union Spark Centre, are going to go up precisely because of this tax.
Just to compound this issue, prices on nearly everything are on the rise, even for essentials like food and gas, because of factors like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as supply chain issues that are the nasty vestige of COVID on the world.
Not everyone is seeing their incomes rise to compensate for the higher costs of living – and some of these people, the most vulnerable among us, are in need of the positive energy and hope that activities like music and exercise can provide to them.
People may not necessarily turn away from these activities, but some will out of necessity, because the costs are too high. It was bad enough that people had to suffer this because of a pandemic, but to then increase already rising prices with a tax is just bad politics, and is not serving the people who elected them.