Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Saskatchewan Presents a deficit budget, but without any big surprises

Minister of Finance since 2017, Donna Harpauer announced that she would not run again in elections in the fall.

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With just over six months until the next election, Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is tabling a deficit provincial budget, but without any big surprises for the year 2024-2025.

In recent weeks, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe had already announced certain major expenditures, particularly on education, through various videos published on social networks.

For fiscal year 2024-2025, Donna Harpauer forecasts revenue of approximately $19.9 billion, up slightly from previous year.

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Spending, for its part, will increase by $1.5 billion compared to the last budget to reach $20.1 billion.

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Donna Harpauer therefore presents a deficit budget, with a shortfall of $273.2 million.

This budget addresses the challenges of a growing province by reinvesting the benefits of growth in the areas that matter most to Saskatchewan residents: education, health and our communities, says Minister .

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The Saskatchewan government, however, expects a return to a budget surplus for next year, in particular thanks to population growth, the workforce and the economy.< /p>

No new taxes or increases to existing taxes are planned. A choice made with the aim of keeping the cost of living affordable, underlines the province.

Over the next year, Saskatchewan will allocate 4, $4 billion to education. Of this amount, $3.3 billion will go to the Ministry of Education, an increase of 8.1% from last year.

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“Our government is investing significantly in the future of our children by allocating the largest budget in the history of the province to education,” said Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill. (File photo)

Money for classroom supports will increase 14.7% to $356.6 million. This sum includes in particular the financing of pilot projects for the specialized support class as well as that of the innovation and support fund for teachers.

Funding provided in part to respond to demands from the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation with which the province has been in conflict for several months.

We are investing where teachers and students told us it was most important, says Donna Harpauer.

We are committed to ensuring high-quality education for all students by funding enrollment growth, providing additional funds for classroom support and building new schools, adds the Minister of Education, Jeremy Cockrill.

Our government is investing significantly in the future of our children by allocating the highest budget in the history of the province to education.

A quote from Jeremy Cockrill, Minister of Education

Nearly $166 million will also support ongoing infrastructure projects, including the construction of the new French-speaking elementary school in Regina as well as the projects for new French-speaking schools in Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

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The new French-language school in Regina will be able to accommodate 325 students. (File photo)

When it comes to higher education, Saskatchewan is increasing its investments by 3.7% to $793 million.

Budget also includes allocation $3.5 million to create 66 additional training places in programs for nurses, psychiatrists, and other health professions with recruiting challenges.

On the health side, Saskatchewan will provide $7.59 billion to the Ministry of Health, an increase of $726.4 million from the previous year.

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Last November, the Saskatoon Fire Department reported that Saint Paul Hospital did not meet safety standards in the event of an fire due to the presence of a large number of beds in the corridors. (File photo)

This investment aims to expand medical care and services, strengthen the accessibility of primary care and support key infrastructure projects such as the construction of new hospitals and residences for the elderly in the region. entire province.

The government will notably spend $30 million more to support its action plans to tackle overcapacity in hospitals from Saskatoon and Regina.

A portion of this amount, $11.6 million, will be allocated to add 250 new or improved permanent full-time positions in rural and remote settings. The province does not, however, specify the nature of these new positions.

One of the priorities of this budget is to provide residents with access to primary care by supporting our doctors and healthcare professionals. We are investing in women's health, advances in cancer care and improving access to primary care, says Health Minister Everett Hindley.

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In November, the Saskatchewan government announced that some patients waiting for a mammogram would have to travel to Calgary to get their medical exam. (File photo)

Repeatedly criticized for its approach to breast cancer screening, the province plans to allocate $248.9 million to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency to increase capacity. and provide patients with access to the most effective cutting-edge oncology drugs, treatments and therapies.

In addition, an additional $3.5 million that last year will be specifically aimed at breast cancer care and screening initiatives.

Regarding mental health and addictions, the province will increase funding for services offered in these areas to the population by almost 11%. An investment which will therefore reach $574 million with this increase.

Last of the three main axes put forward by the government, the various services to come in aid to communities occupy a large place in this budget.

Already announced at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities' annual conference, Saskatchewan will increase the municipal revenue sharing program by $42.3 million. Funding for the latter will therefore reach more than $340 million.

In addition, the Ministry of Social Services sees its funding increase by 7.8% for reach $1.5 billion.

This budget will […] continue to implement integrated approaches to combat homelessness, improve services for people with disabilities and increase support measures for people, families, children and youth at risk, says Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky.

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For several years now, the province's large and small cities have been grappling with homelessness issues. (File photo)

Monthly income assistance benefits will also increase by 3% for recipients of the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program and the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Persons with Disabilities (SAID) program.

Monthly financial assistance offered to seniors to help them cover the cost of living in a senior center will increase by $100 to reach $2,500

To combat homelessness, the government will increase funding for its approach to this issue by $16.7 million. Of this increase, $7.2 million will be used to support the operation of emergency shelters.

To strengthen community safety, the province will invest $641 million for the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety, $78.4 million in funding for the Public Safety Agency of Saskatchewan and $12.4 million for the Saskatchewan Firearms Bureau.

Approximately $228 million will fund the operations of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the province.

In addition, $7 million will be allocated to the future Saskatchewan Marshals Service. This money will be used to continue the establishment of this provincial police force and to carry out recruitment. The province expects this new service to begin operation in 2026.

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