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‘Vacations are a distant memory’: Sask. residents battle with cost of living ahead of byelections

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the cost of living has been an issue of controversy in Saskatchewan.

And with byelections on the horizon, the discussion is top of mind for both the Sask. Party and the Sask. NDP.

“The number one issue, no matter where we go, no matter which constituencies, the number one issue is affordability, the cost of living,” Sask. NDP Leader Carla Beck said Monday surrounded by candidates Noor Burki and Jared Clarke.

While Saskatchewan is considered one of the provinces with the lowest cost of living in the country, the Sask. NDP is sounding the alarm on rising payment costs.

As an example, the cost of electricity has gone up eight per cent in the last year alone. Mix in rising phone bills and Beck said families in Saskatchewan pay an extra $1,608 per year compared with 2016 numbers.

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“The only growth that we’ve seen under the Sask. Party are the growing taxes and power bills,” Beck said.

The Sask. Party claims the NDP is using “selective numbers” to portray the cost of living.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the government of Saskatchewan said in a statement.

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“When all tax reductions and other tax savings measures are taken into account, the average Saskatchewan family pays significantly less to the provincial government now than when the NDP was in office.”

The province said when taxes, utilities and housing costs are combined, the province is the most affordable among provinces for a family of four.

“Every annual provincial budget invests $2 billion in direct payments or forgone revenue to support seniors, families, students, and individuals,” the statement read.

Alayne Dubord, a small business owner in Saskatchewan, said the cost of living is hitting her wallet hard.

“We’ve been working the best we can for a really long time, and it doesn’t really seem like it’s getting any easier,” the mother of two said. “I’ve noticed a big jump in our electricity bill and our energy bill has gone up. It’s gone up almost double in the last little while here.”

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She said her family needs to make improvements to their home before winter, but the extra cost of living is forcing them to make difficult decisions daily.

It’s something Beck said she is seeing across the board.

“Families are putting off retirement because they are finding that they have less and less at the end of the month,” Beck said. “I’ve heard from so many families this summer who have told me that they can’t even afford to take their kids camping this summer.

“Vacations are a distant memory.”

And while both parties claim the other numbers paint a poor picture of reality, the public will have their say during the byelections taking place Aug. 10 in three ridings: Regina Coronation Park, Regina Walsh Acres and Lumsden-Morse.

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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