The Sask. Party finally released their year-end financial documents and revealed a deficit of more than $1.5 billion. The final numbers for the 2015-16 fiscal year are significantly worse than the Sask. Party claimed during the election and just 5 months ago in their third quarter update. Even when pension costs are excluded, the Sask. Party’s deficit is a quarter billion dollars higher than they had told the Saskatchewan people.
"The difference between what the Sask. Party was saying and what we now know to be true is staggering. Being off by a quarter billion dollars just doesn’t happen when the government is being honest and managing the finances well," said NDP finance critic Cathy Sproule. "It’s clear that the Sask. Party hid the true state of the finances and now, even after they have burned through the surpluses of previous years, and the rainy day fund, they’re still pushing ahead with their mismanagement and refusing to plan for the future."
The 2015-16 deficit grew significantly, even though - as a result of an accounting change – the Sask. Party was able to squeeze in fifteen months of crown corporation revenues instead of the standard twelve. Without this additional revenue - generated mostly by Saskatchewan's public liquor and gaming business - the numbers would show an even more troubling reality.
Of particular concern is the province's obligations under long-term financing arrangements, which saw an increase of over 1000% last year alone leaving a much greater debt on future generations.
"As a result of this government's fixation with P3s, we see hundreds of millions of dollars piled on to the backs of our children and grandchildren. Thirty years down the road, kids who are currently in kindergarten will be paying for this government's mismanagement," said Sproule. "This year's finances highlight the need for a long-term plan. The finance minister pays lip service to planning but the lack of good projections were highlighted when the Saskatchewan’s credit rating was downgraded.”
Sproule pointed out that, as interest rates grow, the Sask. Party’s financial mismanagement will have even greater consequences.
“The Sask. Party failed to get the job done during years of record revenues. They wasted billions on mismanaged projects, oversaw the first downgrade of Saskatchewan’s credit rating in decades and have left Saskatchewan people to pay the price during tighter times,” said Sproule. “Instead, Saskatchewan families need a government that they can trust, who is serious about diversifying the economy, generating financial sustainability, and creating jobs so we can build for the future together."