Saskatchewan

'It's just not ready': Finance minister on delayed budget update

Saskatchewan's Opposition wants to see the government's latest financial update before the spring sitting of the legislature begins in a week.

Opposition wants to see finances before Saskatchewan Legislature reconvenes March 6

Opposition finance critic Cathy Sproule looks on as interim NDP leader Trent Wotherspoon calls for the government to release its third-quarter financial update. (Don Somers/CBC)

Saskatchewan's Opposition wants to see the government's latest financial update before the spring sitting of the legislature begins in a week.

The NDP says every time the government talks about this year's deficit, it has jumped by hundreds of millions of dollars.

NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon said the third-quarter financial update is overdue and should be released before MLAs return to the legislature on March 6.

"Instead we see the Sask. Party threatening thousands of job losses, threatening unpaid days off for people across our province," said Wotherspoon. 

"If the numbers were ready to be released, we would release [the update] tomorrow," Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said. "We're not hiding anything."

Doherty said that the update is just not ready yet, as numbers are still being compiled and consolidated. 

Doherty said the $1.2-billion deficit estimate is likely close to what will be released next month. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Crop insurance claims, which will be approximately $650 million, have been a factor in the delay as the numbers weren't available at the mid-year point, he added. About 1.2 million acres of crops remain unharvested, Doherty estimated. 

As of right now, the $1.2-billion deficit that was estimated earlier in the year is still where the government stands, but the numbers aren't finalized yet. 

Doherty said the current estimate includes the Workers' Compensation Board payments and federal funds for the dam transfer and maintenance compensation, which have not yet been received by the provincial government.

The government said it will provide those numbers when it releases its new budget, next month.

It said now that it has changed its public accounting — from a narrow look at the general revenue fund to much broader summary statements — it is impractical to provide a third-quarter update just a month ahead of its March budget.

The budget is set to be tabled in the legislature on March 22.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly said crop insurance claims totalled approximately $500,000. In fact, the total is approximately $650 million.
    Feb 27, 2017 8:10 PM CT

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