It’s a $14 billion budget – but everyday families won’t get a piece of it
The provincial budget shows the government can afford to fix seniors care, build a better education system and make life more affordable for middle class families – but they aren’t going to.
“Revenues are projected to be higher than last year, but this government won’t pass that benefit on to everyday families,” said Trent Wotherspoon, Deputy Leader of the Opposition. “They’ll keep blowing through the cash as fast as it comes in, and even ask families to pay a bit more and get a bit less in order to support the government’s spending habit.”
Saskatchewan will spend more than $14 billion this year.
“This government is choosing to hold back things that matter to people rather than cut waste,” said Wotherspoon. “Mr. Wall has decided to make some cuts to important things and take a pass on the things that really matter to families in order to keep spending on government’s own interests and pet projects.”
Families will pay a little more.
This budget makes the cost of living problem Saskatchewan families cope with a little worse. The government will kick 6,000 middle class seniors off the seniors drug plan. Families will pay a little more on their taxes with the cancellation of the Active Families Benefit. The Graduate Retention Program is being walked back. Parents will no longer get a Saskatchewan Employment Supplement once their kids are over 12 years old.
The Sask. Party will not put the money into things that really matter to Saskatchewan families.
Crumbling hospitals and health centres need at least $2.2 billion in repairs. But, instead of tackling that critical work, the Sask. Party government will set aside only $27.8 million – a tiny fraction of the need. The government will not offer any help for Saskatchewan patients who pay the highest ambulance fees in the country.
The Sask. Party is continuing to stubbornly refuse to seriously address the seniors care crisis. It won’t add additional staff in seniors care homes, won’t fund the re-establishment of minimum care standards for seniors in care and won’t even catch up on the “urgent” needs in seniors care that health regions identified over a year ago.
With this budget, the government also won’t reduce class sizes, or increase in the number of educational assistants to give kids back the one-on-one attention they’ve lost. The budgeted amount for education is enough to cover teacher’s wages, but no improvements in overcrowded and under-resourced classrooms. Previously promised and already-inadequate expansion of childcare and pre-Kindergarten spaces has been scrapped for this year.
The Sask. Party will not cut back on its wasteful spending.
“The government is planning to spend more than $14 billion this year, but won’t fix schools or hospitals, won’t help with the cost of living and won’t put more hands on the front-lines of education or health care – so where’s the money going?” Wotherspoon asked.
The government will continue with the John Black-style Lean program; the bloated administration in health care; and the army of consultants charging taxpayers more than $120 million per year, but largely don’t appear to have so much as job descriptions explaining what taxpayers are paying them for. It still plans to waste money on a controversial P3 rent-a-school-scheme and still intends to use its flawed procurement policy, failing to draw economic benefits and value for taxpayers, giving more work to out-of-province and out-of-country corporations.
The government has also planned to borrow $700 million for SaskBuilds, which is largely to fund P3 projects. While still failing to save even a dime from Saskatchewan’s decade-long resource boom, this government will increase debt by another $1.5 billion, now up to $13.2 billion, not including pension debt.
Instead of cutting waste, the government is borrowing from the future in several places in order to keep spending at record levels. That includes withdrawing $255 million from the growth and financial security fund, often called the rainy day fund. The fund will finish the year at just $200 million down from $1.35 billion in 2009-10. It will also take future years of potash revenue now, forgoing future revenue; will defer portions of the Graduate Retention payments through its walk-back of that program; and will use P3s in order to show less debt this year, while actually paying more in the near future and long-term.
What the 2015-16 budget cuts
- Provincial Targeted Programs and Services - $2.9 million cut (-4.6 per cent)
- Health Research - $5.6 million cut (-100 per cent)
- Provincial Programs Support - $9.4 million (-100 per cent)
- Regional Targeted Programs and Services - $52.1 million (-38.4 per cent)
- Medical Services and Medical Education Programs - Out-of-province - $1.2 million cut (-0.9 per cent)
- Provincial Infrastructure Projects - $31 million cut (-72 per cent)
- Saskatchewan Prescription Drug Plan - $282,000 cut (-0.9 per cent)
- Achievement and Operational Support - $4.2 million cut (-12 per cent)
- Universities, Federated and Affiliated Colleges - $12.2 million cut (-2.5 per cent)
- Innovation and Science Fund - $6.4 million cut (-100 per cent)
- Science and Technology Research - $9.7 million cut (-100 per cent)
- Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings $1 million cut (-13.3 per cent)
- Child and Family Community-Based Organization Services - $939,000 cut (-1.1 per cent)
- Income Assistance and Disability Services - Transition Employment Allowance - $384,000 cut (-2.2 per cent)
- Income Assistance and Disability Services - Saskatchewan Employment Supplement - $1 million cut (-6.2 per cent)
- Income Assistance and Disability Services - Child Care Parent Subsidies - $590,000 cut (-4.0 per cent)
- Income Assistance and Disability Services - Rental Housing Supplements - $1.7M (-4.3 per cent)
- Client Support - Case Management Project - $2.3 million cut (-28.3 per cent)
- Saskatchewan Housing Corporation - $5.5 million (-78 per cent)
- Business risk management - Crop Insurance Program Premiums - $11.6 million cut (-8.7 per cent)
- Business risk management - Agristability Program Delivery - $1.4 million cut (-6.4 per cent)
- Skills Training Benefit - $2.5 million cut (-37.5 per cent)
- Climate Change - $178,000 cut (-6.3 per cent)
- Environmental Support - $2 million cut (-21 per cent)
- Environmental protection - Environmental Protection Program -$1.7 million cut (-30.7 per cent)
- Environmental protection - Environmental Assessment - $58,000 cut (-4.8 per cent)
- Reforestation - $1.2 million (-38.2 per cent)
- Forest Fire Operations - $1 million (-2 per cent)
Highways and Infrastructure
- Strategic Municipal Infrastructure - Municipal Roads Strategy - $9.5 million cut (-37.3 per cent)
- Urban Connectors Program - $733,000 cut (-8.7 per cent)
- Operation of Transportation System - Operational Services - $798,000 cut (-3.8 per cent)
- First Nations and Métis Engagement - $89,000 cut (-3.5 per cent)
- First Nations and Metis Consultation Participation Fund - $400,000 cut (-66.6 per cent)
- Municipal and Northern Engagement - Building Canada Fund, Communities Component - $7.7 million (-67 per cent)
- Building Standards and Licensing - $423,000 cut (-31 per cent)
- Public Safety Telecommunications - $380,000 cut (-17.6 per cent)
- Salaries - Justices of the Peace (Statutory) - $831,000 cut (-22.8 per cent)
- Community Justice - Community Services - $489,000 cut (-2.9 per cent)
Labour Relations and Workplace Safety
- Occupational Health and Safety - $469,000 cut (-5.4 per cent)
- Labour Relations Board - $53,000 cut (-4.6 per cent)
- Labour Relations and Mediation - $15,000 cut (-1.8 per cent)
Parks, Culture and Sport
- Resource Stewardship and the Provincial Capital Commission - $145,000 cut (-5.3 per cent)
- Community Infrastructure - $397,000 cut (-69.9 per cent)
- Active Families Benefit - $6 million cut (-52.2 per cent)
- Film Employment Tax Credit - $2.5 million cut (-100 per cent)