Saskatchewan's Finance Minister, Donna Harpauer, Tables Spending Estimates for 2020-21
In an unprecedented move, the provincial government in Saskatchewan cancelled its planned delivery of the 2020-21 Budget, scheduled to be tabled today in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, and instead tabled only its spending estimates for the coming fiscal year. They did not table revenue forecasts and gave no indication of when they might table a full budget. The Legislative Session was immediately adjourned after the spending estimates were tabled and the Legislature will suspend the Legislative sitting until an unknown date so that MLA’s can return to their Constituencies.
The Minister of Finance, Hon. Donna Harpauer, did not indicate when she might table a full budget and would not speculate as to what the deficit may be in this coming fiscal year until Finance Officials can get a better handle on what the revenue forecasts may look like. The government felt it was critical to announce its spending plans to give some assurance to those institutions and agencies that rely on government funding so that they know what to expect, as a minimum, in the coming fiscal year. With the Expenditure Estimates now tabled in the Legislature, the government, through Special Warrants approved by Cabinet, can now spend money in the new fiscal year beginning April 1st without Legislative approval in the near future. Spending across Government is up 3.1% from last year with the majority of the increased spending directed towards Health, Education, Social Services and significant capital spending in the coming year. In addition to the Estimates being tabled today the Government declared a State of Emergency as the number of confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 doubled overnight from 8 to 16 cases. The government has said they may have to adjust spending in the health ministry as the COVID-19 virus becomes more prevalent.
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