Transform SK wants to ‘rework’ the province
- 10 Aug 2016
- The StarPhoenix
- BRUCE JOHNSTONE
#TransformSK wants to ‘rework’ the province
Coalition of businesses launches wide-ranging consultation process
Inspired by Finance Minister Kevin Doherty’s call for “transformational change” in the delivery of government services in his June budget, several business groups have formed a coalition to seek out innovative ideas and creative ways of meeting the province’s fiscal, economic and social challenges.
Called #TransformSK, the coalition is made up of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Saskatchewan Construction Association, Saskatchewan Mining Association, Saskatchewan Manufacturing Council and Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
“We saw this as an opportunity to embrace a discussion that the government wanted to have (more narrowly) on the budget,’’ Mark Cooper, president of the Saskatchewan Construction Association, said Tuesday. “(We said), ‘Let’s look beyond that and think about the kind of province that we’re building … and the kind of province that we need to have in terms of government (services), education, health care and the other sectors we have.’ ’’
In other words, #TransformSK wants to apply the concept of transformational change “in a broader context’’ to the entire province.
“Budget considerations are one part of that, but not the only one,’’ Cooper said.
Saskatchewan Chamber CEO Steve McLellan said there are probably lots of ideas out there that could help the province get through this rough patch.
“Everybody talks about diversification. Let’s get serious about it. Could we become an aerospace sector? Could we become the golf course capital of the country? I don’t know. But I need to hear from people who know about those things.’’
For example, McLellan asked why any government would design a sales tax system with two tax bases and two governments administering and collecting it. Yet that’s exactly what we have with the current blended PST and GST system.
“Why do we have 800-plus municipalities? Do we need that many? I don’t know that.
“This is a complete rework. If we were to start this province from a blank slate, what would we do? We’re hopeful of getting that kind of input.”
#TransformSK will provide the public, community and business leaders the opportunity to explore ideas at about a dozen meetings this fall. Individuals or groups may also offer their thoughts in writing or by video at www.TransformSK. ca or via Twitter (#TransformSK).
“We welcome the consultation process led by the Saskatchewan business community and look forward to the outcome of their discussions,” Doherty said in a press release.
#TransformSK will present its recommendations to the government in early 2017.