Sask. deficit for last year triple what was predicted
Finance minister says 'prolonged downturn in resource prices' partly to blame
It's the final word on what turned out to be a bad year for the province's finances.
Last year ended with a deficit of $1.2 billion —three times the original deficit the Saskatchewan government had initially predicted.
"The prolonged downturn in resource prices continued to impact revenue in 2016-17," Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said.
"At the same time, a growing population put pressure on government services such as health care and social assistance."
Doherty said he talked to experts to get predictions for the price of oil — and the advice was not very useful, it turned out.
"Every single one of them, independent of each other, said you can count on oil to be 55 to 60 bucks this year ...They were all wrong," Doherty said.
The minister said he's confident in the government's plan to move away from a reliance on non-renewable resources and more of a consumption tax base.
No update on wage cuts
The province has committed to getting back to balance and part of that plan involved $250 million in wage cuts.
Employer groups in the public sector were asked by the government to reduce salaries by 3.5 per cent.
Doherty couldn't provide an update on how close the groups are to achieving that goal.
Doherty said of the $250 million in public sector wage cuts $50 million comes from out-of-scope employees.
He said MLAs and government staff started the process of rolling back their wages as of April 1.
- Sask. school workers say 'it's an absolute no' to 3.5% pay cut
- 3.5% wage reduction already worked into Sask. budget
NDP opposition MLA Carla Beck said she's curious to get an update on how many public employees have agreed to the wage cut. She said if the government wanted to cut spending, it could have made other choices.
"The fact that they gave $100 million in tax cuts to the wealthiest people and corporations in the province — that is a pretty significant amount of money. I think it's a decision that could have been made differently."
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- An earlier version of this article stated the deficit was four times higher than what the Saskatchewan government had initially predicted. In fact, it's only triple the original figure.Jul 21, 2017 10:29 PM CT
with files from CBC's Kevin O'Connor