Saskatchewan

Dealing with the deficit: Wall says action will not be delayed

Premier Brad Wall wants to get to work on reducing the province’s deficit — and said he wishes his government had worked harder to start reducing the debt this year.

Wall said 'everything must be on the table' when it comes to balancing the budget

Brad Wall talks about potential cuts in Saskatchewan

5 years ago
2:15
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants to get to work on reducing the province's deficit and said cutting government jobs is one option. 2:15

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants to get to work on reducing the province's deficit and said cutting government jobs is one option.

It was announced in November that the province is running a billion dollar deficit.

In his year-end interview with CBC, Wall said he wished the government had started to work on reducing the deficit earlier to make it easier to balance the books in the future.

The premier said his government won't take the route other governments took in the past, putting off tough budget-balancing decisions for future governments to address.

Wall said that in the 1980s, provincial governments "kicked the can down the road" when it came to balancing the budgets.

"The worst thing we could do for health and education is delay this decision so that in five or six years the problem is compounded so seriously that what some government down the road would have to do would set us back," said Wall.

"We're going to remember the lessons of our history and not delay action."

Potential layoffs

Wall said "we are looking, likely, at reducing the size of government — potential layoffs in different sectors."

Sixty per cent of the province's expenditures go to human resources wages, he said.

"Can we actually reduce the cost of government without dealing with that?" said Wall.

"Would there be good faith amongst health care providers, and even the provider unions to have an earnest dialogue about that? Can we see some real savings there?"

"Everything must be on the table," he said, noting that this includes looking at both revenue opportunities and expenditure reductions.

Wall made a comparison to decisions taken in the private section. "In the oil industry, I know some very small companies that had honest discussions with their staff and said, 'We have one of two choices, we can either lay off a bunch of people here in this room, or we can all take a little less.'"

"Is that an example for us as a government? … I don't know but it's a discussion we at least should have," said Wall.

Look inward, says NDP

In a statement, NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon called Wall's comments about potential future cuts to workers and services "just another in a string of broken Sask. Party promises and attacks on Saskatchewan workers, our classrooms, and our hospitals."

He suggested savings could come from the government "looking at their own mismanagement" of projects such as carbon capture and the Regina bypass. 

"Coming from a premier who continues to take tens of thousands of dollars on top of his salary in a bonus from his party and paid for by big out-of-province corporate donors, this attack is not only irresponsible and insulting, it also shows just how arrogant and out of touch Brad Wall and the Sask. Party have become," said Wotherspoon.

With files from Jill Morgan

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