Saskatoon

$4B budget from Sask. Health Authority does not include COVID-19 costs

The Saskatchewan Health Authority has approved a $4-billion operating budget for 2020-2021 but the cost of responding to COVID-19 has not yet been factored in.

Health authority CEO says it's too early to assess financial consequences of COVID-19 response

The Saskatchewan Health Authority budget was released at a public board meeting Friday afternoon. (Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority has approved a $4-billion operating budget for 2020-2021 but the cost of responding to COVID-19 has not yet been factored in. 

The health authority released the details of its balanced operating budget at a public board meeting Friday afternoon.

The operating budget for 2019-2020 was $3.97 billion. 

SHA vice-president of finance and chief financial officer Robbie Peters said COVID-19 expenses are still being calculated. 

"We don't have enough information to base our budgets on," he said.

"We're just finishing up some April actual numbers now which we will be using and working with the Ministry of Health to prepare some estimates around what the response to the pandemic may cost us."

The budget includes investments of $20 million for surgical services, $15 million for administrative system replacements, $12 million for mental health and addictions and $8 million for other investments. 

About $2.6 billion — 64 per cent of the total operating budget of $4.08 billion — is for compensation. 

About $303 million, which makes up eight per cent of the overall budget, will go toward medical and surgical costs.

Health authority CEO Scott Livingstone said the cost of COVID-19 is still being assessed but could spread over multiple budgets.

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"Besides some of those direct costs [of] additional equipment and some of the supply costs, we don't have all the information we need now. It's just too early to tell what the longer-term consequences might be to our budget," said Livingstone.

"It's that double side of 'What are we spending on responding to COVID?' but on the other side, 'What's it going to cost to recover?'" 

Capital expenditures are projected to be about $131.9 million, compared with $188.9 million the previous year. 

The health authority said major projects for the 2020-2021 period include $15.7 million for Meadow Lake Long-Term Care, $13.9 million for provincial hospital electrical renewal and $15 million for the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert. 

The SHA is also expecting to receive $25 million in 2020-21 and $75 million in 2021-22 from an economic stimulus package through the provincial SaskBuilds Crown infrastructure corporation.

The funding has not yet been formally approved through the government budget, and is therefore not included in the SHA budget plan. 

The budget released Friday also included a capital expenditure plan for 2021-22. The health authority is planning for total expenditures valued at $153.6 million for that year. 

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