REGINA – The province of Saskatchewan announced on Thursday that their provincial budget surplus is still intact, despite $150 million allowance for flood related costs.
The projected surplus is now $75 million, up $3.5 million from when the budget was announced, largely because of a projected increase in total revenue of $169 million.
“The final cost of the flooding which devastated many Saskatchewan communities earlier this summer is still being determined,” Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said.
“However, we are setting aside $150 million for flood-related expenses.”
Total expense for 2014-15 is now forecasted at $14.67 billion, up $165 million from the budget, with the majority of the increase being the $150 million flood allowance.
“This is the benefit of a growing economy,” Krawetz said. “It means we can assist Saskatchewan people and communities hurt by flooding and still project a $3.5 million increase in the 2014-15 surplus.”
But the NDP say the fact that the Saskatchewan Party is still forecasting a surplus means they’re ignoring big problems in health and seniors care.
“There’s not a dime redirected to actual health care from the massive allocation to its Lean experiment, and no adjustment in the first quarter to address the seniors care crisis,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader and critic for finance. “Is this government not listening at all?”
Wotherspoon was also disappointed to see no debt update in the financial report.
“The auditor said the government’s debt would hit $19.1 billion by March 31 – an alarming increase,” said Wotherspoon. “But, since the minister has torn that page out of this update, Saskatchewan families don’t know what that critical and costly debt number is today. What kind of financial update doesn’t include a debt update?”
Nonetheless, Krawetz is standing by his report.
“This is what steady growth is all about – putting Saskatchewan in a strong position, even in years when we are hurt by extreme weather or by the uncertainties of the global economy.”
So far in 2014 Saskatchewan continues to have the lowest unemployment rate among Canadian provinces.