New schools, no tax increases and running a deficit: Highlights from the 2024-25 Sask. budget

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Investment in population will bring economic growth to Saskatchewan, minister says
On Wednesday, Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer commented on the provincial budget saying invest in the fast-growing population needs to happen to see sustainable revenue into the future. – Mar 20, 2024

The Sask. Party government says the provincial budget has the largest ever increases to school operating funding, health care funding and municipal revenue sharing.

The province said its focus in the 2024-25 budget, which was announced Wednesday afternoon, was “classrooms, care and communities.”

No new taxes or tax increases were listed for the budget, with the government claiming that Saskatchewan is one of the most affordable places to live in the country.

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An outline of where the government plans to allocate the total $20.1 billion in expected expenses included:

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  • Agriculture — $1.5 billion
  • Community development — $904.8 million
  • Economic development — $329.7 million
  • Education — $4.4 billion
  • Environment and natural resources — $373.6 million
  • Financing charges — $911.5 million
  • General government — $581.4 million
  • Health — $7.6 billion
  • Protection of persons and property — $1 billion
  • Social services and assistance — $1.8 billion
  • Transportation — $678.3 million

The government noted that it was expecting to run a deficit this year of $273.2 million.

During last year’s budget announcement, a surplus of $1 billion was initially announced, which changed to a $250 million deficit by the mid-year report, and is now forecasted closer to a $482 million deficit. A deficit in the 2022-23 budget of $463 million was also recorded, with Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer predicting these deficits back in 2021.

Revenue in the province is up 0.9 per cent from last year’s budget to $19.9 billion. This included:

  • $9.7 billion from taxation
  • $2.7 billion from non-renewable resources
  • $657 million from net income from government business enterprises
  • $3 billion from other own-source revenue
  • and $3.8 billion from transfers from the federal government

The province added that the $20.1 billion in total expenses projected for the year is up 7.9 per cent from 2023-24.

It was also noted by the government that the province has seen some population growth and is expected to have 1.25 million people in total across Saskatchewan later this year.

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Oil prices are speculated to be slightly lower than the 2023-24 forecast of $77.30 a barrel to $77 a barrel. The government is also expecting potash pricing to go down from the 2023-24 forecast of $284 per KCI tonne down to $268 per KCI tonne.

Some highlights within the budget includes funding for nine new schools and two renovations taking place in Saskatoon, Regina, Pinehouse, Corman Park and Swift Current. Specific locations for the new schools, nor the names of the soon-to-be renovated schools, have yet to be disclosed.

Capital investment in health-care facilities across the province was also highlighted, with $180 million going toward Prince Albert Victoria Hospital, $55 million going to Weyburn General Hospital, $27 million going to La Ronge long-term care, $21.9 million to complete the Regina General Hospital parkade and $20 million for specialized long-term care beds in Regina.

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The province said it was also allocating $4.7 million for targeted mental health initiatives that focus on youth.

Health science program opportunities are also expected to expand in Saskatchewan, with $3.6 million going towards programs for physician assistants, speech language pathologists, occupational therapy and respiratory therapy.

It also said that $29.5 million was going towards helping municipalities and industry partners support economic growth on rural and municipal roads.

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Initial investments are starting for the Saskatchewan Marshals Service, with the government saying that $7 million is going toward the implementation and hiring, with the service expected to be up and running by 2026.

The Saskatoon Remand Centre is also being expanded, with $37 million allocated to provide more space and offer rehabilitation programming.

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A $5.52 million deposit is earmarked for four airtankers for the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to help manage wildfires. The first airtanker is expected to arrive in the late 2025 summer, with the remaining arriving by the end of 2027.

The province claimed with SaskEnergy and SaskPower no longer collecting carbon tax on natural gas or electric home heating that families will save an average of $400 a year.

Saskatchewan is also maintaining the small business tax rate at one per cent despite it being expected to rise to two per cent in July. The current tax rate will be maintained until June 30, 2025.

— with Files from Dave Giles and Andrew Benson

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