Sask. Premier welcomes stimulus money into the province
A report says the federal government could allocate $1 B for infrastructure in Sask. and Alta.
Saskatchewan's premier is welcoming news that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could decide to focus initial stimulus efforts between Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Brad Wall said he was hopeful to see a report by Bloomberg News, which said the federal government is in talks to allocate $1 billion for infrastructure projects in the two oil-producing provinces.
"This is very hopeful," Wall said. "If it's true that the federal government is indeed looking at some specific ways to help the West, with respect to the economic challenges that are being faced in the energy sector, it is very positive."
Wall said the slump in oil prices will be a "deeper challenge in the energy sector and a longer lasting one than people were expecting." He added that during a conversation with Trudeau on Monday, they spoke about how Saskatchewan will be contributing roughly half-a-billion dollars to equalization this year, but will not receive money back.
"One way the federal government could recognize the fact that Alberta and Saskatchewan taxpayers are funding equalization this year without money coming back, is perhaps to provide a little more assistance in infrastructure than we would otherwise be … eligible for on a population basis," Wall said.
Specific dollar amount still unclear
The Bloomberg Report sources officials familiar with the plans, but provided few details except the money would be earmarked for infrastructure. Wall said he had not heard any specific dollar amounts from the feds, but any money would be welcome.
Wall said the province would specifically look at transportation issues including twinning Highway 39 and Highway 6, and the bypass around Saskatoon. He also mentioned other projects including schools, hospitals, and public infrastructure.
NDP leader Cam Broten said the infrastructure stimulus money is a good thing for the province.
"It's important and positive to have federal dollars coming into the province," he said. "But again, we have to look at the situation; it shouldn't have to be like this. The situation shouldn't have to be so dire."
Broten said after eight years of record revenue, the Saskatchewan Party has drained the "rainy day fund." He added that it's important the projects utilize Saskatchewan-based companies and workers.
"If we are spending infrastructure dollars, it's necessary to make sure it actually does stimulate the provincial economy," he said.