Letters to the editor – April 11, 2019

Sask. PST increase worse than carbon tax 

Having recently completed my income tax return for 2018, I noticed a significant increase in Saskatchewan PST charges. With the current backlash against the federal carbon tax, led in large part by the provincial government, I decided to do some comparing.

In the spring of 2017 the Saskatchewan Party cancelled the “purple gas” benefit for farmers and also reduced the rebate on farm dyed diesel — in total, projected to bring in an extra $40 million per year.

That spring also saw an increase in the PST from five to six percent, but more importantly a broadening of the application base. Overall this was suggested to bring in another $500 to $700 million per year. I personally paid between $4,000 and $5,000 in Saskatchewan PST in 2018, operating a small farm.

A large increase in the Saskatchewan PST is seen on newly added farm insurance premiums.

The PST base was also adjusted to include restaurant meals, children’s clothes, transportation services, rental equipment and housing repair and construction, to give a short list.

Many economists and politicians, including Preston Manning, from his conservative “think tank,” agree that a tax on carbon is the most effective way to adopt a market-based mechanism to reduce emissions. It will encourage people to realize that they are using a non-renewable resource and to consider alternatives in future.

The $600 per farm estimated cost of the new federal carbon tax levied on the 60,000 Saskatchewan farms will cost us approximately $36 million in the province. That is only 1/20 of the increased Saskatchewan PST tax assessment and is largely followed with rebates. It will increase, but the rebates are designed to as well. The irony of the protest is hard to escape.

As a citizen of one of the richest countries in the world, I for one do not mind making a contribution to the reduction in carbon emissions. It seems the least we can do to ensure our children’s future. The cost is much less than the current Saskatchewan government’s increased sales tax levies, which do not have rebates.

Robert R. Horne
Swift Current, Sask.

Farmers must respond to consumer preference

Re: Front page article, “Why won’t consumers listen?” (WP, Feb. 22)

Why won’t consumers listen? The answer to your question is on page 60 of the same issue. Brenda Tjaden, founder of Sustainable Grain, recognizes an opportunity by responding to consumer demands for organic food. Take note — she’s not trying to convince the consumer that the existing system is OK. She’s responding to a demand, as A&W did with the Beyond Meat burger.

I’m not a scientist, or biologist, or chemist, but I’m not stupid. We can’t continue to apply harmful and toxic chemicals to our fields and food. Science assures us that the use of these chemicals is safe, but we inherently know this doesn’t ring true.

People like to reference science-based data, but keep in mind that science is not absolute. Scientific results are only based on the most recent information available. These results change as new information and analysis become available. Results have even been kept from the public, as demonstrated by the Harper regime.

The consumer will listen when the producer responds to consumer needs and preferences.

Frank Orosz
High River, Alta.

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