Provincial Budget: Moe of the Same

By Martin Been on behalf of the Political Action and Awareness Committee

On April 10, your Political Action and Awareness Committee, together with some newly active members and President Barb Cape, travelled to Regina, to hear the Sask Party Government’s  Budget announcement. What we were hoping to hear was a commitment to invest in and strengthen public services in Education, Health Care, and Community Based Organizations.

This is what we heard instead…

Moe Of The Same, It’s The Same Old, Same Old For Saskatchewan

On Provincial Budget day, April 10, 2018, the new Minister of Finance, Donna Harpauer, delivered her first ever budget.

Minister Harpauer began be announcing that her party is committed to investing in both education and health care.

In education, a total of $30 million was budgeted.

If you recall, this $30 million investment in education came after the leadership race in January of this year (and included a $7.5 million down payment after Moe was elected Premier) – but let’s remember this followed a $54 million dollar cut to education last year.

Harpauer is looking to invest $19 million back into health care based on savings and efficiencies,  which puts us back to our 2015 -16 budgeted amount for health care. There appears to be no clear commitment to spend this added monies on frontline services.

Just where these added monies are coming from is on a ‘need to know’ basis… apparently, we didn’t make the list. After the austerity budget delivered in 2017, both education and health care workers deserve better and they ‘need to know’!

The department of social services will see an unprecedented jump in their operating budget. $1.38 billion is being earmarked. These extra dollars will help society’s most vulnerable, and our seniors. Without missing a beat, Harpauer stated that the low income housing supplement program would no longer exist after June 30. Any new applicants for the supplement would be handled through the department of social services.

So much for the unprecedented increase to provide for society’s most vulnerable and our senior citizens!

We heard that our government is committed to not be reliant on resource revenue! Resource revenue, by the Sask Party’s own admission was $14.2 billion last year. Throughout the history of government, resource revenue has been utilized to keep budgets in check.

Our Government has a plan to bring Saskatchewan back to a balanced budget by 2019-20, without the use of resource revenue, or the increase of taxes. We on the Political Action and Awareness committee don’t see this as a reality without the Sask Party’s way of cutting public services.

The rest of the speech, relegated to virtual high fives and pats on the back for a decade of work well done… The jury is still out on that one!

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