What is the difference between a "cost" and an "investment"?

July 7, 2017

The Saskatchewan Party government spends a lot of time talking about much things cost.

Their talking points repeat that STC “costs” taxpayers $85 million over the next five years or that urban parks such as Saskatoon’s Meewasin Valley authority “cost” too much in tough economic times.

Their language makes it seems that things that are provided by the government are a burden and that citizens get very little in return. They are trying to create the narrative that public services are unaffordable and need to be cut.

While providing public services undoubtedly costs money, we should really look at public services as an investment in the people of this province that pay dividends down the road and makes a stronger society for all to enjoy.

Think about the Sask. Party cuts to education budgets that forced the Saskatoon Catholic School Boards to eliminate Aboriginal Student Retention Workers. Think about the Sask Party cuts to funding to libraries that provided educational resources to everyone in Saskatchewan, both young and old. Think about Sask. Party cuts that forced the Regina Public School Board to eliminate preschool programs. The list goes on and on.

What the Saskatchewan Party does not realize is that everyone in society wins when a young Indigenous student stays in school and realizes their full potential. Everyone in society wins when library programs strengthen literacy in Saskatchewan. Everyone in society wins when three and four-years are well prepared to enter into Kindergarten. In each of these cases, there is an investment in economists call “human capital” that furthers economic growth and the general well-being of citizens well into the future.

So, what is really behind the Sask. Party’s repeatedly use of the word “cost” as opposed to the word “investment”?

I think that the Sask. Party want the people of Saskatchewan to believe that we cannot afford public services so that citizens come to expect less and less from their government. 

They are purposefully attacking collective action that benefits all of the people of Saskatchewan.

They want us to believe that government costs too much and that it is wasteful to try to pool together our resources in society for the betterment of all.

Their vision of Saskatchewan is every person for themselves and governments shouldn’t try to build collective projects that benefit everyone.

In the next election and the upcoming leadership race, the Saskatchewan NDP will be presenting an alternative vision for Saskatchewan.

Personally, I think that this vision for Saskatchewan will be one where government programs are seen as an investment in the future of our province. Public services will be seen as investing in the human capital that our province needs to build a forward-looking and progressive economy. Government will be seen as a vehicle for collectively building innovative initiatives and programs that will benefit everyone in society.

In short, we will be talking about how to build Saskatchewan’s future together.