Premier floats idea of Sask. Revenue Agency, wants more control of immigration

Premier Scott Moe says his government is having preliminary discussions on the creation of a Saskatchewan Revenue Agency of sorts, and has approached the federal government about increasing the province's control over immigration.

Moe pitched the ideas in his last media availability of the fall sitting of the legislature on Wednesday.

Following the October federal election, Moe said the province would push for increased autonomy, beginning by expanding its international footprint through trade offices in Asia. 

On Wednesday, Moe added two more items to the list: the possibility of the province setting up a tax collection agency, and increasing its powers over immigration to grow population and job numbers.

In November, Moe released the government's growth plan, which aims for a population increase of 1.4 million people and the creation of 100,000 jobs in the province by 2030.

He said more control over immigration could help meet those goals.

"Many of those people, many of those jobs in that growing economy, will need to be filled by people that don't currently live here."

Moe said his government has told the federal government it wishes to take "a larger role in the selection and the criteria in our immigration policy."

The premier said specifically the province would like more control over the economic immigration class, but would also like say over the family class.

He said he does not have a percentage in mind for how many immigrants the province would want from either class, but said the province could be more "reactive" than the federal government.

As for the proposal of a provincial tax agency, Moe did not provide details on how that  would work.

"We've had some very preliminary conversations — would there be any advantage for the province of Saskatchewan, like the province of Quebec, to look at collecting their own provincial taxes. We haven't made any decisions with respect to that."

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has also pitched the possibility of a separate tax agency in that province.

Moe attempting to 'change the channel': NDP

NDP Leader Ryan Meili accused Moe of ducking questions about health care and education by instead floating ideas that have not been thought through.

"I think it's trial balloon after trial balloon with this guy. He's always got some random idea that he hasn't even looked into … in depth or seriousness. He puts it out here to distract from what's really going on," Meili said.

The Opposition leader said people in Saskatchewan are not advocating for the creation of a provincial revenue agency.

"I think we need to take the remote away from Scott Moe, because all he does is change the channel away from what it matters most."

Meili said he has issues with Quebec's values test for immigrants and its controversial Bill 21, which he said Moe has been "silent on."

"It's just a strange move for a long time he's been railing against Quebec in many ways and now he wants to follow."