REGINA – Highways, hospitals and water treatment plans – the kind of investment you can touch is what Saskatchewan’s finance minister wanted to hear about in Ottawa.
The meeting of provincial finance ministers Monday comes at a time when low resource revenues in Saskatchewan are making it tougher to invest.
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“In this particular year, if we could roll out infrastructure dollars or stimulus dollars sooner rather than later … it would help bridge that gap,” Kevin Doherty told reporters.
The Liberal government promised to double infrastructure spending in Canada; there’s still no word on when, but there is hope that new shovels could be in the ground sometime in 2016.
“Doing it in a rapid way is important because we recognize, to have economic impacts we want, we need to move forward quickly,” said federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
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It would be good news for cities that have a lengthy wish list, including road and transit upgrades.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere recognizes the ask from municipalities across the country is $130 billion, “way past what the province or federal government could actually fund,” he said.
“So we have to be very strategic. What’s the biggest need, provincially and locally, to make sure that works?”
Status quo on CPP
Another issue at the top of Doherty’s list is the Canada Pension Plan, as he spoke against a proposed increase to the mandatory contribution from employers, saying it would further injure an already slumping economy.
Canada’s provincial finance ministers will meet again next year on changes to the Canada Pension Plan.
At the end of Monday’s meetings, it appears that’s now a factor in CPP reform taking a backseat.
“We’ve agreed on a path forward with respect to coming back a year from now to talk about potential options, including not doing anything,” Doherty said.
This will provide more time to see how other methods operate, such as Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), before the federal government imposes what Doherty calls a “broad based solution.”