Sask. finance minister to reveal 2022-23 budget Wednesday afternoon

Sask. finance minister to reveal 2022-23 budget Wednesday afternoon

by Sue Jones
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After the timing of the last two budgets was altered by the pandemic, the provincial government is back on schedule with its release of Wednesday’s 2022-23 budget.

Saskbudget 20210406

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer will deliver the provincial budget at approximately 2:15 p.m. CST on Wednesday. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

After the timing of the last two budgets was altered by the pandemic, the provincial government is back on schedule with its release of Wednesday’s 2022-23 budget.

Premier Scott Moe said Tuesday that the budget is a chance for the province to work toward getting out of deficit budgets and eventually back to balance.

“I think this is a very important budget. It’s a budget for us as we find our way through COVID to a much more normalized environment, for us to get the province’s finances back on track.”

Moe said the government will also focus on “public investment.”

“You’re going to see that investment, most notably in health care and in the human resources, in the people that are delivering health care in our facilities.”

He said it is important for the government to allow “Saskatchewan communities to participate in that economic recovery.”

Moe said the budget will also focus on capital investment “to provide the public services, highways, schools, hospitals that communities expect to continually be invested in.”

Last year, the provincial government estimated its deficit at a record $2.6 billion. The projection subsequentially climbed to $2.7 billion at last November’s mid-year update.

Moe has hinted in recent days that his government was interested in paying down operating debt. In 2009, total government debt was just $7.9 billion. Since then it has nearly tripled to more than $23 billion.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer suggested that spending would be modest.

In recent weeks, Harpauer has noted the rise in commodity prices as having a potential impact on the province’s budget and projections.

Harpauer said last November that the government remained set on returning to balance by 2026-27.

Opposition calls for zero tax increases

Opposition finance critic Trent Wotherspoon said Monday that one thing the provincial government cannot do is raise taxes, especially with expected revenue increases.

“This government should not be increasing taxes on Saskatchewan people,” Wotherspoon said.

“[Resource] revenues have been set soaring in Saskatchewan. The unforgivable invasion in Ukraine has seen many of those revenues skyrocket.”

Wotherspoon said the provincial government should be offering relief to Saskatchewan people who are seeing the cost of living rise due to higher fuel prices and other related costs.

“What we need to see is some relief for Saskatchewan people.”

He said the government needs to invest in health care and in classrooms, two areas affected by the pandemic.

“We need to get our kids’ learning back on track.”

Wotherspoon said the government also needs to fund mental health and addictions services.

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