12 April 2018
Keeping Saskatchewan on Track
Our Government has a plan to return Saskatchewan to a balanced budget by next year, and that plan is on track.
The Government of Saskatchewan continues to control and carefully manage spending in the 2018-19 Provincial Budget. Many ministries are forecasting lower spending than in the previous fiscal year, while continuing to provide valued core services that are sustainable into the future.
Expenses are forecast to be down 1.4 per cent from last year’s budget. Government has also realized $5 million in savings by reducing the number of government-owned vehicles and $19 million in savings from amalgamation into one health region, while improving front-line care.
While working to control spending, we continue to invest in the priorities of Saskatchewan people – health care, education and social services in particular. Investment in these three areas is $10.4 billion, an increase of $4 billion, or more than 64%, since 2007-08.
This year’s budget provides $700,000 for universal 100% coverage for HIV drugs and other supports; over $520,000 for a new program to screen babies born in Saskatchewan hospitals for hearing loss; and $2.8 million to individualized funding for children under six with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Our government’s commitment to increase education operating funding for the 2018-19 school year was also delivered in this budget, as was nearly $77 million in child care funding.
More than $10 million in funding will support those who provide direct daily care to adults with intellectual disabilities, children in need of protection, plus supports for families. This includes foster families and CBOs that deliver day programs and residential services to people with intellectual disabilities and provide family-focused services.
With continued funding in this year’s budget, two new major hospitals – Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital – are on track to be open by the end of next year.
In this budget, there are no increases to tax rates. Low personal and corporate income tax rates remain the same with no increases to Education Property Tax or Provincial Sales Tax rates.
We understand how competitive taxes help to attract people, businesses and investment to Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is projected to have the fourth highest growth in the country in 2018 and third highest in 2019, according to private sector forecasts. Competitive taxes and targeted incentives support continued diversification and growth in Saskatchewan’s economy.
The 2018-19 Saskatchewan Budget includes $413 million of direct support to municipalities and $123 million for municipal infrastructure; increases funding to STEP – the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Program to expand the province’s export markets; and provides $2.7 million for infrastructure, including Crown corporations, to support the growing province.
This year’s budget also includes new growth tax incentives – the Saskatchewan Value-added Agriculture Incentive and the Saskatchewan Technology Start-up Incentive – to encourage investment, diversify the economy and create jobs.
Faced with significant challenges, including resource revenue decline of more than $1 billion due in large part to low oil and potash prices, our Government initiated a three-year plan to control and carefully manage spending and achieve a balanced budget in 2019-20.
One of the main goals of our three-year budget plan is to reduce Saskatchewan’s reliance on resource revenue, and that plan is on track. Non-renewable resource revenue now accounts for just 10% of the province’s total revenue, down from a high of 32% in 2008-09.
This year’s budgeted deficit is $365 million in 2018-19. A return to balance is forecast for 2019-20 with a modest surplus of $6 million. Higher surpluses of $108 million and $212 million respectively are projected for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
Balance ensures long-term sustainability and continued investments in infrastructure. Improved revenue stability, diversified economy, less dependence on resource revenue. This supports our Government’s vision to ensure that Saskatchewan is the best place in Canada – to live, work, start a business, to get an education and raise a family, and to build a life.
Our government’s plan to keep Saskatchewan on track includes controlling spending, delivering high quality services for Saskatchewan people, no tax rate increases, and measures to keep our economy strong to return our province to balance in 2019-20.
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Past Legislative Reports
(9 April 2018)
From Hansard - 9 April 2018
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Humboldt Broncos Bus Tragedy
Hon. Mr. Stewart: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my remarks will be principally directed to those most affected by last Friday’s tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus, that is the families, loved ones, and friends of the deceased, the survivors of the incident, the Humboldt Broncos hockey organization, and the community of Humboldt and surrounding areas.
I played a fair amount of hockey in my day, but that’s not important. I think what I did contribute a little more was coaching young people. And I remember I never . . . I guess when the kids were younger we took some bus trips, but a lot of the travel was in private vehicles. And I remember I always, when they were getting into those vehicles, I always felt a shudder of apprehension sending them out into the Saskatchewan winters on Saskatchewan road conditions, usually, sometimes both directions in the dark, and always at least one. But we were . . . Like most rural Saskatchewan hockey travel, we didn’t ever have any major incidents, and we were so fortunate.
As one of the older members in this honourable Assembly, I have naturally experienced the loss of family and close friends, and I don’t think I’m very good at it or likely ever will be. But I know that when tragedy strikes in this province, we become like a giant small town and we all grieve. To those of you closest to the victims, please know that the whole province and far beyond is grieving for you and your loss, and I hope you can take strength from that.
I’m so proud of the professional players and former players and coaches, even the president of the NHL [National Hockey League], who have voluntarily poured out their hearts to support you. We’ve seen NHL players with Broncos proudly displayed on the back of their jerseys where their own names would normally go. The hockey fraternity across North America understands and they are there for you, and I hope you can take strength from that.
Outside of hockey we’ve seen the Saskatchewan Rush and various professional baseball players sharing their support for you, and I hope you can take strength from that. The Queen and the Pope have offered heartfelt condolences, and I hope that you can take strength from that.
And what I’ve learned about grieving is that everybody does it differently and at a different pace. We all need to be understanding of the grieving process for those closest to the tragedy and to always be willing to talk or hold a hand or just be there for company when that’s what’s needed. Grieving is not a time-limited process. Our support needs to be ongoing.
I think the Broncos chaplain said it well last night in Humboldt when he said words to the effect that the wounds will eventually heal but the scars will remain. There are times that will always be more difficult for families, loved ones, and friends, including the survivors, like birthdays and special occasions.
I know that Saskatchewan people will always be there for you, any time that you signal that you need them. Please reach out to them when you feel that you need to, as you will in the weeks, months, and years to come.
It’s rare that we are ever in total agreement in this great room where I stand and make these insignificant and inadequate and meagre remarks today, but today we truly are united in our thoughts and prayers for you, and I hope that you can take some strength from that.
I’m sure that everyone in this province who has ever prayed has said a prayer for you and for those close to you that were in that bus. God bless you and those who we all lost on Friday.
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