Budget looms as Sask. politicians prepare for session to resume today
Sitting begins on Monday, wraps on May 16
As Saskatchewan's provincial politicians return to the legislature Monday after a two-and-a-half month break, the upcoming budget — set to come out March 20 — looms.
The three-year back-to-balance plan is "on track" according to finance minister Donna Harpauer. The province's most recent financial update projected a $348.3-million deficit for the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Deputy Premier Gord Wyant met with the media in Saskatoon on Friday. He said the government would deliver a balanced budget while still "providing the services and the supports to the people of Saskatchewan that they expect."
The federal government's carbon pricing policy will take effect in Saskatchewan next month. Wyant hinted that there could be something in the budget dealing with the effect of the tax.
"I won't comment directly in terms of what's included in the budget with regard to the carbon tax at this point."
Politicians will also debate, discuss and pass some of the legislation it introduced in the fall during the upcoming session. There are more than 30 outstanding bills. Wyant said he doesn't anticipate any new legislation to be introduced this spring unless it is linked to the budget.
"There's been no conversations, at least as far as I'm aware, of any new initiatives that will be brought forward," Wyant said.
NDP to solicit questions from public
NDP leader Ryan Meili is dubious of the government's claim of a balanced budget.
"How can you call it a balanced budget when the debt is growing?" Meili said.
Meili said his party will focus this spring on the economy, ethics in government and investing in kids.
The NDP is also asking the public to help form opposition questions to be read during question period.
On the ethics file, he pointed to concerns around the development by Brandt in Wascana Park.
"We've got the ongoing concerns with the GTH, with eHealth and now more and more attention being paid to the giveaway of public land within Wascana Park to the Sask Party's largest corporate donor," Meili said.
When asked about the prospect of questions about the Brandt development in Wascana Park, Wyant said "processes were followed".
"It's a good project for the City of Regina, certainly for the CNIB," Wyant said, "I think that from the government's perspective, we stand on pretty solid ground on that project."