Thursday, 22 December 2011

Inside Job, Narrated by Matt Damon (Full Length HD)

"'Inside Job' provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China"

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Together, we can do it

In October, TCU Place in Saskatoon played host to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s 56th annual convention. This year’s convention was another overwhelming success with 500 to 600 delegates in attendance. Convention delegates were treated to a number of presentations by a variety of accomplished speakers, some of whom you can read about inside the new edition of the Labour Reporter.

The theme of this year’s convention was “We Can Do It,” the iconic motto of Rosie the Riveter. Rosie’s famous words were a fitting theme for working people as we headed into a provincial election.

We have now seen the re-election of a government responsible for legislation that has significantly limited the rights of working people. It will be increasingly important to keep in mind that “we can do it.”

With a government in power that has passed legislation to strip working people of their Charter rights, political commentators that make no effort to hide an agenda against working people, and provincial and federal governments that care more about corporate tax cuts than protecting the pensions of people across the nation, it is more important than ever that we maintain our commitment to defending the rights of working people.

It is because of the diligent efforts of generations of working people that we enjoy the quality of life that we do in Saskatchewan today.

It is because of dedicated and compassionate people like you that we have pensions and comparatively good labour standards. It is because of people like you that we have Medicare and public services and Crown corporations that are still the envy of the continent, in spite of the current government’s recent attempts to undermine them. It is because of people like you that we had workplace safety standards enshrined in legislation in the first place and that we still have a Trade Union Act, even though our government has attempted to water it down and undercut our rights.

The truth is that people across this province should be extremely thankful for the hard work and dedication that working people show every day.

No amount of opposition from any government, political commentator, or interest group is going to stop us from conducting our most important work: defending the rights of working people.

In solidarity,
Larry Hubich, SFL President

Download full issue of SFL Labour Reporter here in pdf.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Court date rapidly approaching

All legal arguments have now been filed in the unprecedented case against the Sask. Party governments' anti-worker, anti-democratic, unconstitutional labour laws.

As reported earlier in this blog, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and 25 additional plaintiffs (SFL et al) plus 3 intervenor unions filed their legal arguments in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench related to the Charter Challenge by the SFL et al against the Sask. Party government's Bills 5 & 6. Legislation which the Wall government introduced and passed in late 2007 and early 2008.
 The plaintiffs (SFL et al) and 3 supporting intervenor unions (CUPE, SEIU-West, and SUN) have now also filled their reply arguments.

You can download and read all of the arguments and backgrounder material on the case from the SFL Website at:

In what is arguably the largest lawsuit ever filed by working men and women against a sitting government in Saskatchewan (and quite possibly Canadian) history, the Federation and unions in the province have prepared hundreds of pages of legal argument and tendered thousands of pages of evidence.

In addition to the Charter Challenge, the SFL and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) won a case in March 2009 wherein the Sask. Party government was found guilty of violating Saskatchewan workers international human rights by the United Nations International Labour Organization .

The ILO requested that the Sask. Party government take action to repair the offending legislation in consultation with representatives of the labour movement. The government has steadfastly refused to comply with the ILO ruling and refuses to meet with the labour movement to discuss the matter.

This historic Charter Challenge case will be heard in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench from November 14 - 25th, 2011.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Know the issues, act on the facts.

In the October edition of the Labour Reporter you’ll find details about some of the things that we’ve been up to over the summer. You’ll have a chance to read about the recent SFL Summer Camp, the progress of Station 20 West, and the recent memorial for Nick Schaack. You’ll also find details about important issues including water, greenhouse gases, and other things to think about prior to the provincial election.

As the next provincial election swiftly approaches, it is extremely important for those of us that live and work in Saskatchewan to consider the issues that are important to us, and important to our families. An election is an important opportunity to discuss ideas and to make decisions about what we want our province’s future to look like.

There are some that say that in Saskatchewan unaccountable, unelected CEOs and their corporations should decide how our province is managed. Those same individuals believe that environmental standards aren’t as important as corporate profits, that regulations protecting working people’s safety aren’t as important as dividends for shareholders, and that the widening gap between the rich and everyone else isn’t as important as the bottom line.

There is another way, and it’s a proud part of our history in Saskatchewan. Instead of handing the keys to the province over to corporations, we can insist that our government keep our province in our own hands! We can insist that we decide what happens with our potash, our water, our conservation lands, and the rest of our beautiful province. The coming election is an opportunity for us to elect members of government that represent our shared values: cooperation, public ownership, and practical local solutions to complicated problems.

In order to help inform people about just some of the issues facing the people of Saskatchewan today, the SFL has ramped up our Labour Issues Campaign. Our sixth Labour Issues booklet, which deals with issues of the environment and the economy, is now available. In the coming days it will be increasingly important to order Labour Issues booklets, to send members to training sessions, or to order presentations. On November 7th let’s demand, with one clear voice, a government that puts the interests of Saskatchewan people first!
Download the October 2011 SFL Labour Reporter here.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Federation of Labour files legal argument in massive law suit against Sask. Party government

Over the summer months, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and 25 additional plaintiffs (SFL et al) filed their legal argument in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench related to the Charter Challenge by the SFL et al against the Sask. Party government's unconstitutional anti-worker and anti-union legislation.  Legislation which the Wall government introduced and passed in late 2007 and early 2008.

In what is arguably the largest lawsuit ever filed by working men and women against a sitting government in Saskatchewan (and quite possibly Canadian) history, the SFL filed its 230-page legal argument and tendered thousands of pages of evidence.

In support of the SFL et al's case, three additional intervenor unions filed thousands more pages of argument and evidence.  The arguments of the intervenor unions re-inforced that the ill-conceived Bill 5 and Bill 6 violate workers constitutional rights as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The intervenor unions are:  Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); Service Employees International Union - West (SEIU-West); and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN)

In addition to the Charter Challenge, the SFL and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) won a case in March 2009 wherein the Sask. Party government was found guilty of violating Saskatchewan workers international human rights by the United Nations International Labour Organization . 

The ILO requested that the Sask. Party government take action to repair the offending legislation in consultation with representatives of the labour movement.  The government has steadfastly refused to comply with the ILO ruling and refuses to meet with the labour movement to discuss the matter.

This historic Charter Challenge case will be heard in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench from November 14 - 25th, 2011.

Download PDF's of the unions' legal arguments below:

1.  SFL et al argument
2.  CUPE argument
3.  SEIU-West argument
4.  SUN argument

Monday, 5 September 2011

Saskatchewan People Set to Celebrate Labour Day - 2011

News Release

Saskatchewan People Set to Celebrate Labour Day

On Monday, September 5th, people across Saskatchewan, of many backgrounds and traditions, spanning several generations, and representing a variety of occupations and professions, will gather together to celebrate Labour Day. Originally a day to commemorate the struggle of working people to reduce the workday to eight hours, Labour Day is an important opportunity not only to celebrate, but also to renew commitments to improving people’s quality of life.

“Labour Day is an extremely important day,” said Larry Hubich, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, “not only for the women and men that work in Saskatchewan and across the country, but for all people who now benefit from the efforts of working people. Working people from Saskatchewan have been instrumental in creating many of the things in our society that all people hold dear today: Medicare, pensions, quality education, and laws regarding health and safety, just to name a few.”

First observed as a Canadian national holiday in 1894, Labour Day is now observed in a number of countries across the globe every year. Celebrations typically include barbeques, picnics, and parades, complete with singing, storytelling, and speeches from community leaders.

“As important as it is to celebrate what we have achieved as working people and as a society, it is also important to view Labour Day as an opportunity to renew our commitment to improving the quality of life for the people of the province. We believe that it is always possible to improve upon what we’ve already achieved in our province, and Labour Day is an opportunity to recommit to making those improvements. As the economic gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, it will be increasingly important for us to strive to improve upon the things that make Saskatchewan a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

- 30 -

The SFL represents over 98,000 unionized workers across the province in 37 affiliated unions.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Join Us For the Unveiling of a Headstone In Memory of Nick Schaack

Join Us For the Unveiling of a Headstone In Memory of Nick Schaack

What: Unveiling of a commemorative headstone for Nick Schaack, who died as a result of his participation in the Regina Riot, July 1st, 1935, struggling for economic security on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan and all Canadians.

When: Friday, July 1st, 2011 at 11:00am.

Where: We will meet at the Regina Cemetery (the corner of 4th Avenue and Broad Street) for the unveiling ceremony and then travel to the office of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (2330 2nd Avenue, Regina) for a FREE BBQ!

Who: Everyone is welcome!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Wall government continues to embarrass Saskatchewan on the world stage

The posting below is reproduced directly from the ITUC website.  The Wall government's record on labour and worker rights continues to be a global embarrassment.
Restrictions of Labour Rights in Canada

25 May 2011: A new report by the ITUC on core labour standards in Canada, published to coincide with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) review of its trade policies, finds some significant workers’ rights restrictions.
Despite the fact that federal law grants workers in both public and private sectors the right to join and form trade unions, many restrictions of trade union rights exist due to the legal regimes in force in several Canadian provinces. Furthermore provincial governments frequently use back-to-work legislation to unilaterally end strikes by their employees.
The report also finds that, although the laws of Canada prohibit discrimination, women still face a considerable pay gap and the labour market is segregated on gender lines.
Canada has only ratified five of the eight ILO international core labour standards.

To read the full report

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Stand Up for our Human Rights - SFL Labour Reporter

The following is the lead article from the May 2011 issue of the SFL Labour Reporter - the issue is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights, in Saskatchewan, Canada and abroad. 

You can download the complete issue here...

Stand up for our human rights

The provincial government’s attempts to roll back human rights are steadily mounting.

Among the first official acts of the current government, upon taking office in 2007, was to strip working people across the province of their freedom to associate and to express themselves as union members.

The “essential services” legislation has robbed tens of thousands of Saskatchewan people of their right to assemble, to raise awareness of their concerns, and to strike.

The Trade Union Act was simultaneously weakened, making it much more difficult for people to band together and to negotiate collectively with their employers.

Last year, the International Labour Organization ruled that these laws violate workers’ freedoms under international law, but the government refuses to comply with the United Nations ruling.

Inside you will read about the government’s attempt to amend the Marriage Act, to legalize discrimination against same-sex couples.

The unanimous Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision on the duty of marriage commissioners to marry same-sex, inter-racial and inter-faith couples in our province is a human rights victory for Saskatchewan citizens.

Now the government has introduced Bill 160, which if made law, will seriously weaken the Human Rights Code.

I invite you to read selections from a very important address given by Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

He sounds the alarm on several aspects of Bill 160, including the abolishment of our human rights tribunal and changes that will make complaints much more likely to be dismissed by the chief commissioner.

Governments are supposed to promote human rights, not lessen them. As you’ll see on p. 7, the Harper government has an equally offensive record on human rights. I encourage you all to vote for human rights and for open and transparent government on election day.

And I look forward to seeing you all at Movement for May Day on May 1 (p.8), where together we’ll tell our elected officials it’s time to respect our human rights!

In Solidarity,
Larry Hubich

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hey, Mr. Wall ............ Pay Attention!

Sask. Party Premier, Brad Wall
Since being elected in November 2007 the Brad Wall Sask Party government has been busy stripping away workers rights, and bringing in legislation that attacks democratic institutions and undermines the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I suggest to you, that Mr. Wall has been following disgraced past B.C. Premier, Gordon Campbell's playbook chapter and verse.

Yesterday, the courts once again ruled that the actions of the Campbell government violate Canada's constitution.

The following is reproduced from the NUPGE web site:

BC Supreme Court rules legislation removing teachers' bargaining rights unconstitutional

“We now have four years of consistent jurisprudence that recognizes the constituional obligation of governments to respect the collective bargaining process and refrain from enacting legislation that strips away the Charter rights of their employees.” James Clancy

(14 April 2011) – In a landmark decision handed down yesterday, the BC Supreme Court ruled that laws which take away collective bargaining rights from teachers unconstitutional and in breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bill 27, the Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act, prohibited the inclusion of certain items in teacher collective agreements, including staffing, class size and composition limits.

Bill 28, the Education Services Collective Agreement Act, amalgamated school districts and local bargaining units, imposing one collective agreement on teachers in the newly amalgamated districts who had previously been covered by two or three local agreements.

Madam Justice Griffin declared that Bills 27 and 28 were a substantial interference in bargaining rights and infringed on freedom of association guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  continue reading here......

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Having Their Cake and Eating It Too: Stanford - CCPA

CAW Economist Jim Stanford exposes the Big Conservative/Corporate Lie.  The truth and the facts are that corporate tax cuts do not stimulate the economy and do not generate jobs and investment.

Corporate tax cuts economically ineffective

National Office          News Release

April 13, 2011

OTTAWA—The Conservatives’ proposed 3-point reduction in corporate tax rates would cost the public purse $6 billion per year, yet only stimulate about $600 million of new business investment annually, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The study, by economist Jim Stanford, examines historical data on business investment and cash flow from 1961 through 2010. Using econometric techniques, the study finds no evidence in the historical data that lower taxes have directly stimulated more investment. Moreover, the indirect impact of tax cuts on investment (experienced through corporate cash flow) has become much weaker over time.

“Business fixed capital spending has declined notably as a share of GDP and as a share of corporate cash flow since the early 1980s—despite repeated tax cuts that have reduced the combined federal-provincial corporate tax rate from 50% to just 29.5% in 2010,” says Stanford.

After adjusting for other determinants of investment spending, incremental cash flow has elicited only small amounts of business investment in recent years: about 10 cents in new investment for each dollar in extra cash flow.

“Given this statistical evidence, the federal government would have a far more powerful impact on both public and private investment by investing directly in public infrastructure, rather than providing additional tax reductions for businesses,” Stanford says.

If the federal government spent $6 billion on public infrastructure instead of corporate tax cuts, the total increase in investment would be more than ten times as great as the increase in private investment from tax cuts alone. This includes the new public investment itself ($6 billion), as well as an additional $520 million in private business investment that would be stimulated through the positive spin-off effects of the resulting economic growth.

According to the study, Canadian corporations have received $745 billion in excess, uninvested after-tax cash flow since 2001: cash flow that was not reinvested in real capital projects in Canada. This excess corporate saving reduces expenditure and purchasing power in the Canadian economy. A lack of business investment spending was the major source of Canada’s recent downturn, and the sluggish rebound in business spending is a key reason why Canada’s recovery from the recession has been uncertain, sluggish, and incomplete.

“Corporate Canada has been consistently receiving far more after-tax cash flow than it is reinvesting in Canadian capital spending—to the tune of $745 billion since 2001,” Stanford says. “Supplementing that cash flow through further tax cuts is like pushing on a string. Those tax savings would only add to the large sums of uninvested cash flow Canadian businesses already possess.”


For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.

Download the full report and analysis here.....

Monday, 11 April 2011

Global financial crisis/recovery: What does it mean for Saskatchewan?

Global financial crisis/recovery: What does it mean for Saskatchewan?
- by Dr. Simon Enoch, Director of the Saskatchewan office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

These remarks were delivered to the Saskatchewan CED and Co-operatives Conference, April 8, 2011, Mount Royal Collegiate, Saskatoon by Dr Simon Enoch.

"This is a somewhat difficult topic to tackle because as far as the global recession is concerned, Saskatchewan has weathered it rather well. If anything, our main problem may be the management of our current prosperity and resource wealth, all of which is certainly tied to the rapidity and the resilience of a global economic recovery.

Given there are so many unknowns on this issue, I will be forced to speculate based on current trends and the likelihood of potential scenarios emerging in the future. So I am certainly not offering predictions here, but rather identifying possible challenges that may arise given the uncertainty of the current global economic situation.

First off, we should ask the question of whether we are in recovery, or perhaps, recovery for whom? It is no secret that corporate profitability has reached record levels recently, so the corporate sector is certainly “recovering.” The problem is that they are reluctant to invest, sitting on piles of cash in the billions – if not trillions – of dollars awaiting the return of profitable investment opportunities."    continue reading here.....

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Why is a senior media personality threatening a 21 year old university student?

On March 28, 2011, the following tweet appeared on the Twitter account of a local Saskatchewan talk show host.  My question is:  Why is a senior media personality publicly threatening the newly elected president of the University of Regina Students Union?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Where's the Funding: Rural Health Care

Health Care is an important issue for everyone in Saskatchewan.

Our taxes are meant to provide everyone with REAL access to doctors, home care, hospitals and long term care services so that we can get the right level of care at the right time.

So why are people who live in Rural Saskatchewan being asked to pay an additional tax to get the same access that people in Urban areas receive?

The excuses from government are un-ending.

But there is no real plan in order to save our health care and keep it in good shape for our children.

It’s time to tell your MLA and the Health Minister of Saskatchewan that you won’t accept a two-tiered health plan.

Help put a stop to the under-funding of health care in this province.

Add your voice by sending an email now.

Monday, 28 March 2011

What is this Man's Position on Coalitions, Really?

Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy - Dobbin

The following is reproduced from the Council of Canadians website:
Stephen Harper’s Assault on Democracy

Author and columnist Murray Dobbin details the harm Prime Minister Stephen Harper is doing to the political and social fabric of Canada in a new, hard-hitting essay commissioned by the Council of Canadians titled Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy.

As Dobbin explains in the opening paragraphs of the essay, “This study is intended to examine the most serious violations of democracy committed by the prime minister and his government. Some are clearly more serious than others. But taken as a whole they add up to a dangerous undermining of our democratic traditions, institutions and precedents – and politics. These violations are not accidental, they are not incidental, and they are not oversights or simply the sign of an impatient government or ‘decisive’ leadership. They are a fundamental part of Harper’s iron-fisted determination to remake Canada, whether Canadians like it or not.”

Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy
Download report here 1 MB or in sections below:

POLL: Environics, on behalf of the Council of Canadians, polled people about their feelings about proportional representation in February. Here are the results:

-   61% of Canadians support moving to a system of proportional representation in Parliament

-   36% said they were more supportive of proportional representation as a result of Prime Minister Harper’s recent prorogations

(These results represent the findings of a telephone survey conducted among a national random sample of 1,001 adults comprising 501 males and 500 females 18 years of age and older, living in Canada. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.10%, 19 times out of 20.)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The "Other Saskatchewan" - CCPA

Reproduced below is a 2011 Saskatchewan Budget Response by Dr. Simon Enoch, CCPA Saskatchewan:

The “Other Saskatchewan”

A Budget Response by CCPA Saskatchewan

by Simon Enoch

March 24, 2011

If yesterday’s budget was designed to give something to everyone in order to win over voters for the upcoming election, then it is clear where the poorest and most vulnerable in our province rank in the minds of Sask Party electoral strategists.

Despite an obvious and acute housing crisis, this budget offered a paltry $1.7 million for two new affordable housing initiatives while the immediate need for new housing in the province is approximately 3000 units. For those who cannot wait for the construction of new housing, no relief was forthcoming to prevent the regular rent increases that seem to have become the norm in our province.

Despite ranking dead last among the provinces in child-care space, the budget offered to fund the creation of only 500 new child-care spaces when the need is closer to 5000. Currently, Saskatchewan has licensed child-care spots for only 9.1 per cent of children between the ages of zero and five, compared to the 20.3 per cent national average. While we applaud the government for committing to the creation of these new spaces, our province desperately needs a much more aggressive and long-term policy to address our child-care needs.

Despite the desperate need to replace the only psychiatric hospital in the province, this budget offered absolutely nothing for those suffering from mental illness.

In contrast, business owners will reap almost $80 million in tax savings due to the reduction of the small business tax while off-sale beer vendors will enjoy a $5.1 million discount. While the government has made much of it’s low-income tax reduction policy, a tax cut on nothing is still nothing. If we were to measure what constituencies this government covets by the amount of largesse given to them in yesterday’s budget, it is obvious where the poorest in our province rank.

Finance Minister Ken Krawetz stressed that this budget represented the “New Saskatchewan” and that we are no longer “next year country” but “this year country.” Perhaps a better metaphor for the province could be borrowed from the famous American political commentator Michael Harrington; “The Other Saskatchewan.” The “Other Saskatchewan” has not shared in the prosperity that the Sask Party is so quick to claim credit for. The “Other Saskatchewan” includes people who cannot afford spiraling rent increases, food and fuel prices, utility bills and other basic necessities. The “Other Saskatchewan” is experiencing increased homelessness, growing social assistance caseloads, lack of access to quality childcare, increasing unemployment among aboriginal peoples and a woefully inadequate minimum wage.

Finance Minister Ken Krawetz also made repeated mention of the “Saskatchewan Advantage” – obviously borrowing from the oft-used “Alberta Advantage.” Let’s hope that the Sask Party is not intent on also borrowing Alberta’s record of wanton neglect for the poorest in that province as well; the “Other Saskatchewan” simply cannot afford it.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Open letter to Premier Brad Wall - CPP Improvements

Today I sent the following "open letter" to Saskatchewan Premier, Brad Wall respecting proposed improvements to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).  It is self explanatory:  (PDF version here)

March 18, 2011

Honourable Brad Wall
Premier of Saskatchewan
Room 226
Legislative Building
Regina, SK
S4S 0B3

Open letter to Premier Brad Wall from SFL President, Larry Hubich

Dear Mr. Wall:

RE: Meeting regarding Canada Pension Plan improvements, etc.

Attached hereto are letters from me to you dated September 20, 2010 and November 29, 2010 respecting a meeting that we agreed to convene during a discussion we had at the Richardson farm in August 2010 while attending the meeting and events of the Council of the Federation in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

During our encounter and discussion, you committed to me, in person, that we would meet for the purposes of discussing proposals by the labour movement for improvements to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). In fact, your exact words to me were, “I agree, we should meet to discuss that (CPP), and other things.”

I am disappointed that you have not fulfilled your commitment to me or even demonstrated the common courtesy of a response to my follow-up letters. In fact, my office has not even received an acknowledgement of receipt of the correspondence.

I know you don’t treat representatives from business this way, but I am concerned that your government deliberately marginalizes and outright ignores the voices of organizations that you view to have different priorities than your own. What other organizations and/or groups do you dismiss out of hand?

Recently, I received copies of an e-mail exchange between you and a citizen writing to you concerned about expansion of the uranium industry set against a backdrop of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed that your reply was dated (Tuesday) March 8, 2011, in response to the citizen’s original e-mail of Saturday, March 5, 2011. A three-day turnaround from the Premier is remarkable. Here I have been waiting patiently for you to live up to a personal commitment you made more than 7 months ago.

Now, Mr. Premier, we are not asking for special treatment, or special consideration – but we would appreciate the Federation of Labour being given the same courtesy as, say, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, or other business lobby groups. After all, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour represents approximately 100,000 taxpaying citizens in our wonderful province. Surely their thoughts, opinions and ideas are of interest to the Premier of the Province.

It’s alarming and inappropriate for you to suggest that you have had no time to hear personally from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour in the nearly 4 years that you have been Premier.

Awaiting contact from you regarding the commitment you made, but have yet to fulfill.

Yours truly,

Larry Hubich, President
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

cc: SFL Executive Council

UPDATE:  Today (March 22) I finally received a reply from the Premier.  You can view it here.  He has confirmed that he is reneging on the commitment to meet that he made to me in August of 2010.  Guess I should have bought one of them fancy $1,000 per year "Elite party memberships" instead of taking him at his word.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Labour Rights Human Rights - What's happening in Saskatchewan

Check out the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour's newest edition of the booklet:

(Click on the image to download a copy)

Potash Corp's new numbers - Erin Weir Progressive Economics Forum

Potash Corp’s Fuzzy Math

March 10th, 2011

In a couple of recent posts, I threw down the gauntlet for PotashCorp to disclose how much corporate income tax and Crown royalties it paid to the Government of Saskatchewan.

As Bruce Johnstone reports, it has finally done so:

"While PotashCorp paid $77 million in resource surcharges in 2010, it also paid $82 million in corporate income taxes and $70 million in Crown royalties. In total, PotashCorp paid about $230 million in royalties and taxes to the province in 2010."

So, I was correct in suggesting that it paid less corporate income tax to Saskatchewan than to Trinidad ($82 million versus $113 million). PotashCorp paid Trinidadian tax on a manufacturing facility, not for extracting the island’s natural resources.

That is the fundamental difference between corporate income taxes and resource royalties. All industries are subject to corporate tax. Royalties are separate fees for the extraction of publicly-owned natural resources.

It is inappropriate to add up PotashCorp’s puny corporate tax payment and puny royalty payments to produce a seemingly respectable total. It is appropriate to combine the resource surcharge with Crown royalties for total resource royalties of $147 million in 2010.

That year, the company sold $2.8 billion of Saskatchewan potash. (It sold $3 billion in total, but 8% of its potash production was from New Brunswick.)

The surcharge is set at 3% of potash sales and Crown royalties range from 2.1% to 4.5% of potash produced from Crown lands. The $147-million total amounts to 5% of $2.8 billion – a nickel for every dollar of potash sold.

PotashCorp’s fourth-quarter reports compare royalties to potash gross margin, upon which the Potash Production Tax (that it did not pay in 2010) is based. The company generated a gross margin of $1.6 billion from Saskatchewan potash in 2010 ($1.8 billion minus New Brunswick). So, it paid a whopping nine cents per dollar of potash gross margin.

PotashCorp is now trying to argue that the appropriate base of comparison is neither sales nor gross margin but earnings: “If you just take a look at our net earnings after tax, yes, it was $1.8 billion (in 2010),” [CFO Wayne] Brownlee said. “But from Saskatchewan, it was $1 billion.”

Of course, earnings are money left over after royalties have been paid, so they cannot be the base from which royalties are paid. Earnings are also net of corporate income tax and other charges that apply after royalty calculations.

But then Brownlee goes even further off the deep end:

"Based on potash prices of $550 US per tonne and 14 million tonnes per year of production, PotashCorp projects it would pay about $1.75 billion annually to the province, including about $500 million in corporate income tax and about $750 million in potash production tax."

The story does not specify whether he means tonnes of KCl or K2O, but we have to assume KCl because that is PotashCorp’s usual metric. To put these projections in perspective, PotashCorp produced 7.4 million tonnes in Saskatchewan and received an average price of $316 per tonne in 2010.

So, if PotashCorp sells twice as much potash at nearly double the price, it will pay substantial royalties and taxes. I hope so.

I am by no means pessimistic about the potash industry’s future. But given that PotashCorp has kept prices high by limiting supply, projections based on doubling both prices and supply should be taken with a grain of salt (or some other salt-like mineral.)

PotashCorp’s disclosure of Saskatchewan-specific royalty and tax figures advances the debate. However, it does not change the conclusion that royalties are far too low.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

PotashCorp’s Annual Report: The Fine Print

The following article by Erin Weir is reproduced from the Progressive Economics Forum:

PotashCorp’s Annual Report: The Fine Print

by Erin Weir
February 26th, 2011

The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan posted its 2010 annual report yesterday. It’s always worth taking a closer look at documents released on a Friday afternoon.

Those interested in public revenues should see pages 109, 110 and 111. Note 19’s breakdown of “Provincial Mining and Other Taxes” confirms something that I had suspected.

PotashCorp paid zero Potash Production Tax in 2010. In other words, the company is swimming in writeoffs and had no taxable profits according to Saskatchewan’s profit-tax formula.

The company’s entire $77-million royalty payment in 2010 was the provincial resource surcharge, set at 3% of sales. (Of course, 3% of potash sales is closer to 5% of potash gross margin).

Thank goodness Saskatchewan kept the resource surcharge when it eliminated its corporate capital tax. Otherwise, PotashCorp’s 2010 royalty payment would have been a big goose egg (and not of the golden variety).

Note 21 breaks down corporate income tax by country. While the report does not distinguish between federal and provincial income tax, the 30% “federal and provincial statutory income tax rate” clearly comprises the 18% federal rate plus the 12% Saskatchewan rate.

So, we can infer that PotashCorp’s 2010 Canadian income tax expense of $333 million comprises about $200 million to Ottawa and $133 million to provincial governments. Because the company also operates in other provinces, Saskatchewan is probably getting less than $133 million.

Meanwhile, PotashCorp is paying $113 million of corporate income tax in Trinidad, where it has a nitrogen facility. In the previous year, 2009, it actually paid more corporate tax to Trinidad than to all levels of Canadian government!

Congratulations, Trinidad, for collecting a decent amount of revenue from PotashCorp. Canada’s federal and provincial authorities need to pull up their socks.