Saskatchewan deficit projection climbs to $427M
Opposition says Saskatchewan Party government spent too much, saved too little
Saskatchewan's projected deficit is getting bigger, according to the province's third-quarter fiscal update.
On Monday, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty released new figures showing a $427-million deficit for the current fiscal year is now expected.
That's $165 million more than the $262-million deficit — the gap between spending and revenues — that was in the forecast at mid-year.
If I knew where the price of oil were going to go, absolutely, we'd probably be having this news conference on my yacht in Hawaii.- Kevin Doherty, Saskatchewan finance minister
The province is also putting a number on the projected deficit for the 2016-17 fiscal year as well — $259 million.
It's blaming the deficits on low commodity prices and a weak global economy.
"If I knew where the price of oil were going to go absolutely, we'd probably be having this news conference on my yacht in Hawaii. But we need to ensure that we continue to manage the things that we can manage, and I can't manage the price of oil," Doherty said.
Doherty said the only other option besides a deficit was increasing taxes or cutting spending drastically.
"We could cut spending to the tune of $427 million. But $427 million dollars means laying off people and shutting down facilities," he said.
Official opposition unimpressed
Opposition Leader Cam Broten said the NDP isn't impressed with the latest update.
He said the current government has left nothing in the bank for tougher economic times, and blew though money when the "getting was good."
"This is what we've seen from them after a run, an economic boom in the province, where there's a big hole and there hasn't been the transparency in the legislature to be clear with the Saskatchewan people about what's happening," Broten said.
The NDP said it is putting its finishing touches on its financial plan and will announce it soon.
Promises for the future
In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the province said revenues will recover and the budget is expected to be balanced.
The Saskatchewan Party government did not release a budget this year, saying it was not doing so because of the provincial election.
The Opposition New Democrats said that's unacceptable. The NDP wanted the government to call back the legislature so the province's finances could be discussed in detail.
Saskatchewan voters go to the polls on April 4.