Saskatchewan is being held out as the poster child for government fiscal reform and could be the model for much-needed action in Atlantic Canada.
That comes from a report prepared by the Fraser Institute which looks at the fiscal challenges of the Atlantic region – problems that were exaggerated by COVID – that have been building for some time. And it points to the Saskatchewan turnaround of the 1990s under Roy Romanow and his finance minister Janice MacKinnon.
Back then our deficit was so high we could not sell our provincial bonds, a challenge facing at least one Atlantic province today. So the government took steps on the spending side first – cutting workers, trimming programs, and closing 52 hospitals.
Those savings stemmed the bleeding as we went from red ink to a surplus clearing the ways for tax reform which made us more competitive and, as the Institute noted, the reforms were long-lasting. They argue the Atlantic Provinces should adopt the Saskatchewan model as a template for turning their fortunes around.