Sask. Party avoiding transparency on deficit

The Sask. Party government is running a deficit of nearly $1 billion, but the Finance Minister refuses to tell Saskatchewan people how the government intends to get out of that budgetary hole.

The Sask. Party's deficit includes the nearly $300-million operating deficit it announced in August, plus the $700 million of borrowing it announced in the spring.

“Even with revenues still much higher than just a few years ago, as soon as the price of oil sunk, the Sask. Party put our province into the unenviable position of deficit budgeting,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader and finance critic. “With more money going out than coming in, something has to give, but this government is keeping the plans to stop the bleeding a secret from taxpayers, and that's not right.”

The NDP filed written questions in the Legislative Assembly regarding mid-year funding adjustments for programs and organizations, but the Sask. Party refused to provide any answers.

Wotherspoon said Saskatchewan people deserve to know where the hundreds of millions of missing dollars will come from to fill the budgetary hole created by the Sask. Party.

“Saskatchewan families are very worried that the cuts will match the warped sense of priorities we’ve been seeing from the Sask. Party, rather than matching the things that really matter to most Saskatchewan people,” said Wotherspoon.

“The fact is, we’re already seeing that Mr. Wall is cutting thousands of surgeries this year to save money, while still shovelling millions of dollars into the John Black Lean program and its Kaizen Promotion Offices. What other cuts and clawbacks are the Sask. Party choosing? Or will they hold reckless fire sales, throwing valuable public assets on the auction block?”

In addition to the deficit of nearly $1 billion dollars, the Sask. Party drained Saskatchewan’s rainy day fund. Despite years of record revenues, the fund that had $1.35 billion stashed away in 2010 has had $1.15 billion drained from it by the Sask. Party.

Public debt has also been ramped up during the boom. At the end of the current fiscal year, the province will have more than $13.3 billion in debt, up from $7.9 billion at the end of the Sask. Party’s first full fiscal year.   

 “It makes absolutely no sense that during years of windfall money, the Sask. Party drained our savings and drove up our debt,” said Wotherspoon. “People ask me all the time where all that money went, because it obviously didn’t go into infrastructure, classrooms or shorter hospital wait times. If programs and services have been told to return some of the money they were promised on budget day, taxpayers and families deserve to know that.”