Canadians generally have a pretty good eye on their money. Every month follows a similar pattern: we get paid, we pay our mortgage and other bills, buy our groceries, hopefully put some away into savings, and pay our taxes. We have a pretty good idea where most of our money is going – it’s easy to appreciate when we see our refrigerator full and there’s a roof over our head. It’s never been more convenient to check the balance of your bank account.
But when we pay our taxes, how well do we really know how that money – our money – is being spent.
We understand our taxes go to support our schools and hospitals and the roads we use to get there – and for many of us – that’s all the information we need.
But government transparency matters to us all. It promotes accountability, ensures our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent wisely, helps provide the stability needed to attract private investment and create jobs. Jobs that will kick-start our recovery and power Saskatchewan’s next decade of growth.
Saskatchewan is blessed with a wealth of natural resources that is the envy of many nations across the globe. All these resources are in rural Saskatchewan – the economic heart of our province.
Unfortunately, we have a serious financial transparency problem in many rural Saskatchewan municipalities that is limiting our ability to generate investment.
This isn’t a new issue – it’s been a problem for years.
In a 2019 investigation, the StarPhoenix/LeaderPost contacted all 775 of Saskatchewan’s municipalities to gather information on municipal transparency and found ‘alarming issues’ and that ‘complaints about local governments were common’.
In response to the report, the Saskatchewan government said they were developing a web portal to house local government documents (similar portals are already in place in Alberta and Ontario) to help increase transparency.
However, a separate 2021 investigation on municipal spending – conducted by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) – found the province had yet to make any progress on their commitments as they are still ‘considering options for an online system where municipal finances would be publicly available’. In speaking to the report, author Todd Mackay commented “the Saskatchewan government already has financial statements from every municipality — it’s time to put them online so that everyone can hold their local leaders accountable”.
As countries all over the world turn their attention to rebuilding their economies, we have an opportunity to kickstart a strong Saskatchewan recovery by capitalizing on our advantages.
But the competition for investment and capital is fierce, and despite the progress made by the provincial government, Saskatchewan is losing its competitive edge.
The Saskatchewan Growth Coalition – a partnership of over 20 industries critical to Saskatchewan’s economic growth – is calling on the Saskatchewan government to address the lack of financial transparency in Saskatchewan municipalities so we can create the conditions needed to generate investment and build stronger Saskatchewan communities.
To learn more about the Saskatchewan Growth Coalition, our solutions. and to sign-up to support a growing Saskatchewan, click here.
Fees May Apply; A Transparency Project – StarPhoenix, LeaderPost – December 2019
Municipal Spending in Saskatchewan – Canadian Taxpayers Federation – March 2021
‘Not rocket science:’ CTF pushes province for public documents website – March 2021