Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Saskatchewan government gives several clues about the provincial budget

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Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer will present the province's budget on Wednesday.

Radio-Canada

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The Saskatchewan Party will unveil its 2024-25 budget on Wednesday afternoon, but some government announcements in recent weeks offer clues to its content, while health, education and investment in rural areas are expected to feature prominently. important place.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) convention that the budget would focus on classrooms, care and communities.

Recently, in the midst of conflict with the educational community, the government announced the signing of an agreement with the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) in which it is specified that the issue of class size and complexity will be addressed by the different divisions.

Indeed, the government published a video on social media announcing its promise to spend $356 million per year on primary and secondary education over the next four years.

But the STF criticized the agreement, which guarantees funding for the next fiscal year but leaves subsequent years in uncertainty, meaning the province could decide to change the amount or remove it completely.

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In the area of ​​health, the government has made some pre-budget announcements.

Health Minister Everett Hindley has announced plans to open a breast assessment center within the next year in Regina to address growing wait times. longer for breast care and diagnostics.

Mr. Hindley said the budget would include details on costs and staffing.

This week, on the sidelines of the Saskatchewan Rural Municipalities Conference, the province also announced a plan to strengthen the role of nurse practitioners in response to a call from SARM which, two weeks ago, highlighted gaps in rural areas.

This week, the government announced to SARM members that it would spend $340.2 million on municipal revenue sharing over the coming year, an increase of $42.3 million from Scott Moe also announced spending of $1.15 billion for the first phase of the construction project. #x27;irrigation of Lake Diefenbaker, construction of which will begin next year. The plan is to unlock 90,000 acres, or nearly 37,000 hectares, of agricultural land in southern and central Saskatchewan.

The initial total cost of the project was estimated at $4 billion in 2020.

According to the government, the costs will be paid by the province and producers who wish to participate.

Mr. Moe said Thursday the province will begin covering costs while waiting to see if the federal government will chip in.

One ​​of the big uncertainties concerns the projections that Finance Minister Donna Harpauer will make in what is expected to be a deficit budget. The provincial government was forecasting a $1 billion surplus for the 2023-24 fiscal year, before seeing it turn into a $250 million deficit in the last update.

Recently, the government spent $757 million on special mandates. This week, Saskatchewan New Democratic Party finance critic Trent Wotherspoon told the legislature that deficit projections and special mandate spending would put the government in a position of billion-dollar deficit for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

With information from Adam Hunter

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