Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall calls federal budget 'disappointing'

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he doesn't see any "special recognition" for the province in the new federal budget.

Wall hoping for $570M to balance money he says province pays into equalization

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says so far he's disappointed with what he sees for the province in the newly unveiled federal budget. (Brian Rodgers/CBC)

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says what he's seen so far of the federal budget is "disappointing."

The budget that was revealed in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon includes an increase in infrastructure spending and changes to employment insurance rules that could benefit people in Saskatchewan. It also includes extra money for First Nations education. 

"We were looking for some special recognition for Saskatchewan, and not just our province, but for Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador — those provinces that have been hit hard by the energy sector downturn. There does not seem to be that special recognition," he said. 

Wall has previously said he'd like to see the province get back some of the money that the province sends to Ottawa.

Wall said he'd like to see $570 million in new funding for Saskatchewan in the federal budget — which he says is what Saskatchewan has paid to Ottawa.

These payments don't make sense, according to Wall, at a time when the oil and energy sector is struggling.

Wall said the investments the federal financial plan calls for aren't enough to make up for what Saskatchewan pays. 

"It doesn't look like we'll get anything greater than what would be our per capita share."

Brad Wall reacts to federal budget

6 years ago
Duration 1:11
Brad Wall reacts to federal budget

Employment insurance overhaul

The federal government announced it's enhancing employment insurance benefits in parts of Saskatchewan and some other regions identified as having acute unemployment challenges. 

But Wall wasn't impressed, saying not all regions in Saskatchewan will be covered.

They've missed a big part of Saskatchewan's oil patch in this particular initiative.- Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall

He said two out of three of Saskatchewan's oil patches don't fall within the regions qualifying for EI expansion. 

He pointed to a map from the federal website which shows the 12 hard-hit regions. In Saskatchewan, only regions in the north and in Saskatoon are identified as qualifying. 

He says the oil patch around Lloydminster would benefit from the new changes, but not oil fields around Estevan, Weyburn and the southwest. 

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Finance Minister Kevin Doherty watched as the federal budget was unveiled on March 22, 2016. (Brian Rodgers/CBC)

"They've missed a big part of Saskatchewan's oil patch in this particular initiative," he said. 

Wall said that although the province still has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, 2,000 people have lost jobs in the energy sector. 

"There is an impact." 

Regina NDP MP Erin Weir responded to the move as well, calling it a missed opportunity.

He said the Liberal government failed to put forward a concrete plan, and pointed to a need to improve EI in Regina and southern Saskatchewan. 

"Canadian families are being told to wait for years because the Liberals chose to defer their campaign promises into the future but families here in Regina have bills to pay at the end of this month," Weir said in a press release. 

Infrastructure spending

Ottawa is investing $120 billion in new and existing infrastructure over 10 years. The first phase of the plan focuses on public transit, water, affordable housing and wastewater systems.

Wall said he appreciates the infrastructure spending, but was disappointed at a lack of additional funding for Saskatchewan. Rather, he says, it's only what the province would expect to achieve on a per capita basis. 

"What we see here is disappointing," he said.

Billions for Indigenous peoples

The new budget includes big spending for aboriginal services, including funding to address education, reserve water and child and family services. 

$2.6 billion of the $8.4 billion budget item will go towards primary and secondary schooling on reserves over the next five years. 

Wall commended the funding .

"Right now, you'll know, there's a major gap between the per student funding that the federal government provides for on-reserve education, and what the province provides," he said. 

Wall called his reaction to the budget preliminary and said his financial experts will be pouring over the document and its details over the next few days. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Micki Cowan

Reporter/producer

Micki is a reporter and producer at CBC Vancouver. Her passions are municipal issues and water security.

with files from Bonnie Allen

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