A new online poll shows just over three-quarters of Saskatchewan people are against the Wall government’s move to start charging provincial sales tax (PST) on insurance premiums.
The Insightrix poll was commissioned by the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation (CTF). Results showed 78 per cent of respondents either opposed or strongly opposed the change, which is set to take effect Aug. 1.
Todd MacKay, prairie region director for the CTF, called for the province to reverse the decision during an appearance on Gormley Thursday morning.
“It’s bad for people, it’s bad for businesses. But it’s also really bad for the government,” MacKay said.
MacKay explained that the province could find itself on the hook if people opt to reduce coverage or cancel insurance in the face of higher costs.
“If people don’t have the means to take care of themselves when things get tough, usually the buck comes back to the provincial government,” he said.
MacKay said the poll contained disturbing news on that front, with one-in-three respondents saying they’d look at either scaling back or getting rid of their policies.
While MacKay said he thought most people would end up gritting their teeth and eating higher prices for vital coverage like home and auto policies, he worried other types of insurance could be left by the wayside.
“Wait until next spring when farmers get the new quotes for their crop insurance bills and they spike up by $6,000, $12,000, $20,000 — that’s going to make a big impact,” he said.
MacKay said he was particularly concerned about the impact on farmers amid drought conditions in much of the province.
“We’re all praying for rain and hoping that we get some help on that. But boy, I hope a lot of guys have crop insurance. Making it harder for them to buy crop insurance is only going to make the (agriculture) minister’s phone ring off the hook if we have a wreck,” he said.
MacKay acknowledged the Saskatchewan Party has to address a $1.3-billion deficit amid low commodity prices, but said the CTF would prefer to see it done through spending reductions, rather than tax hikes.
He said Premier Brad Wall risks political fallout if he keeps asking people to open their wallets.
“We can’t keep going to the revenue well. If the next budget included a massive tax increase like this one, whatever’s left of the Sask. Party brand would be absolutely destroyed,” he said.
Insightrix surveyed 802 people online between July 12 and 14, using quotas on age, gender and region to match the general population of the province. Because the research was done online, no margin of error is applicable.