Saskatchewan’s finances remain on track as government releases mid-year report

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer.

The Saskatchewan government released its mid-year financial report on Thursday morning, indicating the current budget remains on track.

The report forecasts a modest surplus of $37.4-million, up $3-million from the budgeted surplus.

Revenue is forecast to be $15.4-billion, an increase of $329.3-million or 2.2 percent from this year’s budget.

In a news release the provinces said this is due to higher federal transfers, non-renewable resource revenue, and net income from Government Business Enterprises, combined with smaller increases in taxation and other own-source revenue.

“We are on course with our financial plan, it’s the right balance for Saskatchewan people,” Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said in the news release. “We continue to manage spending carefully, invest in priorities, and help keep our economy strong.”

Expenses are forecast to be $15.3-billion, an increase of $326.3 million (2.2 per cent) compared to budget.

The province says a $285.2-million non-cash increase in pension expense accounts for nearly 90 percent of the increase, the rest is mainly due to utilization pressures in the health system and federal flow-through funding for infrastructure, partly offset by lower debt-servicing costs.

Harpauer said overall the economic outlook for 2020 remains positive, with modest growth still being projected this year with more strengthening in 2020.

“While challenges remain in some sectors, economic indicators including population, employment, wholesale trade and non-residential building construction are up,” Harpauer said.

Meanwhile, the opposition NDP says the SaskParty government advertising a projected balanced budget is a cover up of the real issues.

Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon said despite revenue forecast to be over $15-billion the economy is not as stable as the government makes it out to be.

“We wanted to see and we’ve been calling for dollars, a mid-year adjustment to provide dollars in classrooms,” Wotherspoon said. “We’re calling for an adjustment in dollars to respond to the suicide crisis and the crystal meth epidemic that’s impacting so many in the province, and we would also be calling for adjustments to things like the PST on construction.”

Wotherspoon added if money is not invested into these vital areas quality of life and the economy will continue to decline.

He says if a small deficit is what’s needed to get health care and education back on track it’s more responsible than advertising a return to balance.

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