Taxes were front and centre for the Saskatchewan Party and the New Democratic Party as the leaders of both parties began the first full day of their campaigns in Saskatoon.
On Wednesday, a day after the official election call, Sask. Party Leader Scott Moe rolled out his plan for a home renovation tax credit, while NDP Leader Ryan Meili said taxes should increase for the wealthiest in the province.
The Sask. Party's home renovation program would mean homeowners would be able to claim a 10.5 per cent tax credit on up to $20,000 of eligible renovations. The work would have to be completed between Oct. 1 of this year and the end of 2022.
"We want to put more money back in your pocket, while at the same time we want to continue to drive the economic recovery by creating an incentive to to spend, to build and to hire people across our province," said Moe, whose party is seeking a fourth consecutive term in the Oct. 26 election.
Moe said the credit will be an important way to help the provincial economy rebound from the effects of COVID-19, a recovery he said "is already underway in this province."
"But we know there is more work to do. The pandemic isn't over and we need to continue to support the economic recovery while working to ensure that we can make life more affordable for Saskatchewan people and Saskatchewan families."
Moe estimated the program would cost the province approximately $124 million over the next two years. People would be eligible for a maximum credit of $2,100.
Items like furniture, appliances, hot tubs and tools, or maintenance like carpet or furnace cleaning, will not be eligible for the credit.
The program is similar to a federal program rolled out by the Conservative Party in 2009. Moe said building associations from across the country have been calling for similar programs across the country.
"They cited a very positive stimulative effect that that tax credit had in generating economic activity and creating new jobs to help Canada emerge from what was then a recession," said Moe.
The move is in addition to a program announced in this spring's spending estimates, which promised a PST rebate on any new home built between March 2020 and April 2023. The rebate will pay up to 42 per cent of the PST paid on a new house contract up to $350,000, excluding the land.
Meanwhile, NDP Leader Ryan Meili said any person with net wealth of $15 million or more should pay more taxes.
If elected, he promised people above that threshold would be subject to an additional one per cent tax.
Meili believes a tax like this would generate $120 million in revenue every year, which could be used to pay for increased education and health-care spending.
"We're talking about a very small percentage of the population," said Meili.
"Less than half of one per cent have $15 million in net wealth.… It will allow us to do what we need to do — invest in health, invest in education and the things that will get our economy moving, and allow … everyone to continue to gain from the wealth of Saskatchewan."
At the same time, Meili promised that the majority of citizens would not see any tax increases under the plan. He criticized the Saskatchewan Party for raising the provincial sales tax to six per cent in 2017, in an attempt to balance the budget.
"The working women and men of Saskatchewan are told to expect less and less, while the rich and powerful take more and more," he said.
"At times like these, we need a different approach."
The model of taxing society's wealthiest has gained traction around the world recently, popularized by U.S. politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
"This is a model that has been being explored around the world," said Meili.
"People have been looking at this as a model for the entire country."
In response, Sask. Party candidate for Humboldt-Watrous Donna Harpauer questioned whether the plan would be even possible for a provincial government.
"The NDP announcement raises a number of questions, including how would an NDP government determine everyone's net worth?" she wrote in a statement.
"Will every Saskatchewan family be required to report their personal finances to the big government of Ryan Meili and the NDP?"
There are currently six registered political parties in Saskatchewan: the Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party (NDP), the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Green Party, the Saskatchewan Liberal Party and the Saskatchewan Party.