August 6, 2022
Later in August, the RM
of Barrier Valley will conduct a referendum on whether the voters
want this RM to become a member of one of Saskatchewan’s “farmer
support groups”, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan
At their Information Meeting
held in Archerwill on March 30, 2005, I asked APAS representative,
Don Saelhof, how I could gain access to
the organization’s financial reports, since there were no financial
statements available on their website or at the meeting. Mr. Saelhof
admitted that he hadn’t even thought to bring financial statements
with him (…to an Information Meeting?!) but agreed that when
you are dealing with other people’s money, transparency is very
important in showing how it is being spent. He asked me to email him
and he would forward the statements to me.
I sent two messages to Mr.
Saelhof, one on March 31 and another on April 12, requesting the
financial statements, but didn’t receive
a reply to either of them. On April 26, the RM Administrator requested
this information from Mr. Saelhof. In reply, she received a faxed copy
of the “2003/04 audited financial statement” with a covering
letter which stated: “We will on a request basis provide the
statement on the condition that it is for viewing only by the public,
i.e. a hard copy may not be provided to go out of your office.” How
can one subscribe to transparency about how one uses other peoples’ money
when there is such reluctance to reveal this information?
I also asked Mr. Saelhof
at the March meeting how much would it cost me, a small landowner,
to participate in the APAS Health and Dental
Benefits Program? Mr. Saelhof’s answer: I can’t. It is
available only to incorporated ‘farms’!
On page 21 of their Winter
2004/05 magazine, Ag Connections, it states: “There
is an annual administration fee of $250 (plus GST) per corporation
to enroll their participants in the APAS HSA (Health Spending Account)
program….”. Further, from an APAS document entitled Overview
of APAS Member Benefit Programs: “The Health Spending Account
program provides directors and employees of farm corporations with
full re-imbursement of their medical expenses, as allowed by CRA (Canada
Revenue Agency). This re-imbursement is provided to them personally,
on a tax-free basis. In addition the medical expense becomes a full
business deduction for the corporation.”
My final question concerned how much it would cost the RM of Barrier
Valley for membership in APAS? The answer: about $7,000.00 to join
and an annual renewal fee of about $7,000.00. How much will my taxes
increase or what services will be cut in order to pay this fee?
In summary, APAS is reluctant
to reveal financial information on how much membership money they
collect from about half of the province’s
RMs (in 2003/2004, over $1 million - tax-free since it is a non-profit
organization) or how they spend it (mostly on travel, hotels and per
diems). Also, because I don’t have an incorporated ‘farm’,
I am unable to participate in the APAS Medical and Dental Program.
And, finally, if the result of the referendum favours joining APAS,
I have no option; my tax money will help fund the RM of Barrier Valley’s
membership in APAS.
One must ask the question …for
what? How does this program really support the family farmer?