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Opinion: Thank the energy sector and agriculture for Moe bucks

Oil and gas, mining and agriculture are all vital to Saskatchewan.
Pump jack Getty
An opinion piece on the value of the energy sector.

Has your Moe Money cheque arrived yet? 

People are starting to receive the $500 cheques, billed as the Saskatchewan Affordability Tax Credit, that the provincial government promised back in August. These cheques were billed as a way to help Saskatchewan residents offset the added cost of living due to inflation.

Each person in Saskatchewan who filed an income tax return for the 2021 tax year by Oct. 31 is eligible. 

Granted, the cheques won’t fully offset the higher cost of living facing most Saskatchewan residents. Inflation has been so hard on so many of us, and it has impacted the cost of everything from food to fuel to clothing, and everything in between.  

You can question the government’s motives with the $500 cheques, and whether the money would have been spent better elsewhere, such as health-care, education or social services. (We could have used some additional financial support for our new nursing home in Estevan. You know, the one that we’ve had the necessary funding for since 2015. And Carlyle would have liked to see a commitment to their new school.

You could argue the province could have used the money generated by increased resource revenues to pay down debt that has been accumulating in the past few years, or it could have directed the money towards replenishing the rainy-day fund. Or it could have been selective in deciding who gets the $500 cheques, because there will be people receiving the money who don’t need it. 

But the government came up with a method that will provide a measure of assistance to virtually everyone in the province, and it’s a lot easier to go with $500 for most people, than to make some people happy by funding some projects and operations, and ticking off others by shunning them.  

We also need to remember that the Moe money or Moe bucks, as it’s been billed, is only happening because we’re blessed with the natural resources that we have. 

For example, when the provincial government announced their budget back in March, they forecasted the average price of oil would be US$75.75 per barrel. At the time, the price of oil was well north of that figure, and many thought it would be a conservative estimate. The government budgeted for a deficit, but if the price of oil remained well north of the average budgeted amount, there would be a surplus. 

Well, the price of oil has been well north of US$75.75 this year. And even if the price of oil takes a sudden dive for the final four months of the fiscal year, Saskatchewan should still have a budget surplus.  

We might sound like a broken record for saying this, but we should be grateful to have these natural resources, such as the oil and gas sector, such as the mining sector, in our province. Those of us who live in southeast Saskatchewan grasp the benefits of oil and gas, and we have no problem saying thanks.  

But you might have some in other markets, particularly the big cities, who don’t understand the impact of oil, and if they do, they wish that it would merely go away, and we would “leave it in the ground”, regardless of the economic consequences.  

It must pain them to know that the strength of the energy sector is why they’ll receive $500 in the mail in the coming days. But will it pain them to deposit that cheque into their bank account?  

Perhaps they’ll decide to donate the money to charity. Maybe they’ll pick a charity that will fall in line with their beliefs.  

But they won’t express their gratitude with the oil and gas sector, and its employees.  

There is a balance that needs to be struck between what’s good for the economy and what’s good for the environment. We can’t allow industry to run roughshod over us. But we’re need to be thankful for what we have here, and we should capitalize on it.

We’re lucky to have the oil resources. We’re lucky to have natural gas. We’re lucky to have potash, uranium, coal, lithium, helium and other forms of mining.  

And we’re damn lucky to have agriculture. It built this province. It remains our backbone. And our farmers are the best you’ll find anywhere. Farming is an industry that has such a slim margin for error. Some farmers did not have success this year, others had a very prosperous year. But they’re making great contributions to our economy, too, and we wouldn’t have our Moe bucks without them.  

When we receive the $500 cheques in the mail, it’s a reminder of what we have here. If we didn’t have these resources, our economy wouldn’t be as strong as it is, our province wouldn’t be as strong as it is, and the government might not be in a position to offer relief.