Finance minister ‘optimistic’ drop in markets won’t affect Sask. in long-term picture

Saskatchewan’s finance minister says she’s optimistic the recent downturn in the markets won’t be dramatic in the long-term with drops in the Canadian dollar and oil prices.

Donna Harpauer told reporters on Monday at the legislature that they can’t knee-jerk react to each and every price change, adding that oil now is only four to five per cent of the budget.

However alterations will be made to the budget if necessary.

“We stabilized the budget a great deal. But should this continue for a few months, that’s when it will actually affect budget prices because projections that we have need to be averaged over the entire 12 months,” explained Harpauer.

“The time to adjust will be in Q1.”

If adjustments need to be made, Harpauer said they will be done in Q1 of the fiscal year.
“We’ve weathered a recession before and because of the changes we have made to the budget, we have definitely altered how reliant we are on oil prices. That will be significant.”

Opposition leader Ryan Meili is worried about the validity of the upcoming budget with all these sudden changes in the economy, adding that people shouldn’t take it seriously.

The government says the budget was finalized on February 28 with numbers forecasted for the coming year.

Meili believes with all these recent economic changes, residents should be concerned about cuts if these issues are long-term.

“It might look good right now what they put on paper or for a few weeks during an election. But shortly after we will see massive changes,” he stated.

“We could see another move down the road like what we had in 2017: deep cuts to health care and education, selloff of our Crowns, increased taxes on regular people.”

The provincial budget will be presented on March 18.

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