Saskatchewan

Sask. government postpones full budget, will release spending plans Wednesday

The Saskatchewan government has decided to postpone the 2020-21 provincial budget.

Full budget was to be released Wednesday afternoon

The 2020-21 provincial budget will not be released in full as planned on Wednesday. The government has decided to release only its spending plans. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

The Saskatchewan government has decided to postpone the release of the full 2020-21 provincial budget.

The opposition had asked for the budget to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current position of international markets, including falling oil prices.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer will release a "scaled-back budget" on Wednesday.

It will including spending but not revenue forecasts.

The province said the spending plans for all areas of government, including health, education, social services, public protection and capital spending will be released.

"[The budget] includes a significant lift to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which funds the doctors, nurses and other health professionals who are on the front line of the fight against COVID-19," Harpauer said in the release.

"It is absolutely vital that we move ahead with those spending increases now as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic," Harpauer said.

"The events of the past few weeks have resulted in our revenue forecasts no longer being accurate," Harpauer said. 

"Once the situation has become more stable, we will release a financial update including revenue forecasts."

The government said that if the assembly is suspended and estimates are not passed, it can fund government operations using special warrants.

"We have recognized and identified for some time as many have that the revenues have changed and the revenues that were coming in this budget aren't indicative of where this budget will be for the first number of months at the very least," Premier Scott Moe said Tuesday.

Moe had told reporters Monday that the budget was going ahead as planned and would proceed to the debate stage.

Opposition pushed for budget delay

Opposition Leader Ryan Meili had asked the province to delay its budget. Harpauer said the budget was finalized on February 28. Meili called using those numbers "fiction."

"This budget didn't make any sense so it's obviously a reasonable decision and we've been asking for this for several days now for the premier to finally realize his budget was out of line," Meili said Tuesday.

Meili said the government should put together a financial aid package for workers and businesses.

He also called on Moe to "get social distancing right" by banning public gatherings of more than 50 people, including a suspension of the Legislative session.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 12 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

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