The Saskatchewan Government released a scaled back version of its budget on Wednesday for the upcoming fiscal year.
The province plans to spend $14.15 billion, which is an increase of 3.1%. No revenue forecast was provided at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting world markets.
In a news release, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer says it’s important to move on these expenditures now to continue to support Saskatchewan families.
The budget includes a record-investment of $5.77 billion in health care. Among that, $3.74 billion will be going towards the Saskatchewan Health Authority to help pay doctor, nurse and health care professional salaries.
Reaction from the budget below.
- Saskatchewan NDP:
Provincial NDP leader Ryan Meili called Wednesday’s budget a failed response to COVID-19 arriving in Saskatchewan.
Meili says Saskatchewan people were already struggling before COVID-19 arrived, and despite federal funding announced Wednesday to help lighten the pressure on Canadians, the Sask Party government is still unable to take urgent action.
In a news release, Meili says the province needs to step up immediately to help flatten the COVID-19 pandemic curve.
- Regina Chamber of Commerce:
The Regina & District Chamber of Commerce expressed appreciation for the Provincial Government’s 2020 expenditure plan. According to the Chamber’s Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins, “the statement of expenditures is the prudent way to approach the fiscal climate given COVID-19 and the Saudi/Russian oil standoff. While it is virtually impossible to forecast revenues, we appreciate the government does have an expenditure plan that includes increased funding to healthcare to deal with COVID-19.” The Chamber is also supportive of measures that may come outside the budget to deal with COVID-19 impacts, particularly economic impacts which are a major concern expressed by members including a deficit. “The world is in a very precarious place. Most of us have never been faced with the level of uncertainty now before us. Now is the time for all of us to come together and face these challenges and find solutions.”
- Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association;
The 2020-21 budget estimate tabled Wednesday provided a familiar refrain.
The Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association (SHCA) didn’t expect any surprises or a significant shift in infrastructure spending for this upcoming season. That’s exactly what was delivered, which could present positive and dramatically negative outcomes for the industry in the near future.
“This was a status quo budget,” said Shantel Lipp, SHCA president. “Taking into account the challenges the government is facing with Covid-19, we realize the budget could have been a lot worse. The government should be commended for sticking to its Growth Plan and trying to advance it despite these challenges and circumstances.”
The overall budget for the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure for 2020-21 is $648 million, a drop of more than $50 million from last year’s budget. However, the $358 million set aside for capital expenditures slightly increased from 2019-20.
Reacting to today’s Saskatchewan Party government fiscal update, the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union (SGEU) is calling for more action and leadership from Premier Scott Moe and his cabinet. “The only way to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is by assuring workers that they can take sick leave and self-isolate without facing financial hardship,” said SGEU President Bob Bymoen. “If the government is serious about protecting the province, there has to be certainty for the people of this province and their employers that the government has their backs. We heard nothing today about how they were going to do that.”
- SASKATCHEWAN TEACHERS FEDERATION
President Patrick Maze is happy to see an increase in funding for school divisions. The 27 divisions will see an increase of $42 million from last year or $1.94 billion in operating funding. Maze says this could help some divisions when it comes to class size and composition which are two issues teachers are fighting for in a new contract.
- UNIVERSITY OF REGINA
Outgoing President Vianne Timmons says the spending estimates contain positive news for our University and the post-secondary sector. “I am optimistic that with this commitment of support, and with the leadership of Dr. Thomas Chase as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, the University will remain on a good footing in what are unprecedented circumstances for all of us.” Timmons said.
The government’s 2020-21 investment in the University of Regina will total approximately $116.6 million. This represents an overall increase of approximately $1.4 million compared to 2019-20.
- MUNICIPALITIES OF SASKATCHEWAN
Municipalities of Saskatchewan appreciates the increased support for Saskatchewan’s cities, towns, villages, and northern municipalities announced today in the provincial government’s statement of expenditures.
“As we face uncertain times, we appreciate the provincial government’s recognition of hometowns through increases to municipal funding including revenue sharing and transportation programs” said Municipalities of Saskatchewan President Gordon Barnhart.
Municipal revenue sharing will increase by $27 million to $278 million.
While glad for the increased support, there is also disappointment. M-O-S is pleased to see a PST rebate on home construction to aid the current economy, but disappointed municipalities will continue to pay PST on construction projects, projects like water and waste-water facilities that support the quality of life for Saskatchewan’s residents.
- SASKATCHEWAN CONSTRUCTION ASSOCIATION
I am very pleased with the announcements made today by the finance minister, and believe it will give a jolt of confidence to our industry and Saskatchewan’s economy as a whole as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis and look to the days beyond it.
The PST rebate on new home builds is incredibly welcome news for our industry and obviously homeowners and homebuilders in the province.
More to come.