Largest education investment in Sask. history leans on property tax increase in 2021-22 budget

The 2021-22 provincial budget includes Saskatchewan’s largest education investment in history, with $2.66 billion to support Prekindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms early learning and child care, and libraries and literacy. It’s an increase of $59.6 million from 2020-21.

Saskatchewan earmarked $1.96 billion for operating funds for 27 school divisions, which addresses a two per cent salary increase as part of the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is a $19.2 million increase in school operating funding compared to last year.

The province plans to use $101.9 million to build 16 new schools and renovate five existing schools.

Child care is seeing an increase of $2 million, and the budget also includes funding to create 176 new licensed home-based spaces and 51 new licensed centre spaces, as part of the province's four-year commitment to create 750 new licensed child care spaces.

TEACHERS' UNION REACTS TO BUDGET

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation said that it is encouraged by the budget and said it signals public education is a priority, in a news release.

“There are always resource challenges in schools and we always hope for funding increases beyond inflation and enrolment increases. However, these are difficult times for citizens and for government. A budget always requires tough choices to be made and the pandemic has increased financial pressure on the provincial government,” STF President Patrick Maze said, in the release. “This budget essentially holds the line for education. Given the circumstances, this is a realistic approach.”

Maze said there will still be resource challenges in schools.

The budget also proposes an increase to the Education Property Tax (EPT) to help increase the province’s revenue for elementary and secondary education.

EDUCATION PROPERTY TAX MILL RATE

The budget includes a $12 million increase in property tax revenue. This increase will cover the Education Property Tax mill rates that will increase in order to get Pre-K to Grade 12 education revenue in line with year-over-year inflation.

After the increase, the 2021 EPT mill rates will be 4.46 for residential, 6.75 for commercial and industrial properties and 9.79 per cent for resource properties.

The only properties not seeing an increase are agricultural properties, which will see a .7 decrease to 1.36.

In 2020, EPT mill rates for the various property classes were:

  • Agricultural: 1.43
  • Residential: 4.12
  • Commercial/industrial: 6.27
  • Resource: 9.68

This increase will cost the average homeowner $18 this year.

POST-SECONDARY PANDEMIC SUPPORT

The budget invests $735 million in post-secondary institutions as they continue to face challenges created by the pandemic.

The University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina and the federated and affiliated colleges will receive a total of $447 million and $7 million in capital funding has been afforded to Saskatchewan Polytechnic

An additional $60 million over two years is geared at COVID-19 recovery, revenue generation, sector collaboration and achieving the strategic initiatives set out in the Growth Plan. It’s the first time advanced education has received a multi-year funding commitment.