In light of the global economic impact of COVID-19, NDP Leader Ryan Meili called for clarity and transparency from the provincial government when it comes to the fiscal picture they’ll present in the 2020 budget, including pushing back budget day to allow time to update the fiscal assumptions, and ensuring full debate on the budget in the legislature.
“Our economy has already been rocked by the fast-spreading COVID-19 virus, and the consequences for Saskatchewan people have barely begun to be felt,” said Meili. When every $1 decrease in the price of a barrel of oil removes $15 million from our budget, it’s only reasonable that the government should revisit their assumptions to ensure we’re facing these challenges honestly.”
Specifically, Meili pushed the government to release the third quarter financial update from the 2019 budget, and push back the release of the 2020 budget, which was finalized on February 28, until updated estimates can be incorporated. The Sask. Party’s most recent budget estimates put the price of crude oil at $61 US per barrel in 2021 — more than double the current price.
“Two years ago, this Premier thought it wise to delay the budget by two weeks because he’d been selected as leader of his party two months earlier,” said Meili. “If this Premier can delay a budget to give him time to take off the training wheels, why can’t he delay the budget to take into account the effects of a global market crash, a massive drop in oil prices and a world-wide pandemic? Saskatchewan people, who are already stretched and struggling, need to see that this government is taking their situation seriously.”