The Government of Saskatchewan announced Friday the province is projected to face revenue shortfalls as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Finance estimates Saskatchewan will be $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion short for 2020-21 depending on the duration of the pandemic.
“We are less than three weeks into the new fiscal year and right now we just don’t know how long restrictions will remain in place in Saskatchewan, in Canada and around the world,” Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said.
“That’s why it is still incredibly difficult to forecast with any certainty. We believe, however, it is important that we release these different scenarios, to let Saskatchewan people know just how much of an impact the pandemic is having on our economy and revenues.”
The potential revenue declines are based on three economic scenarios based on factors including the duration of the current economic restrictions, the price of resources and consumer spending.
The government projects its deficit to be anywhere from 4.1 per cent to 14.9 per cent based on three different scenarios.
In the first scenario, with oil priced at $30 CAD a barrel and the economy recovering by June, the government says a $1.3-billion shortfall is expected for 2020-21.
In the second scenario, with oil priced at $25 CAD a barrel and the economy recovering by September, the government estimated a $2.2-billion shortfall for 2020-21.
And in the third scenario, with oil priced at $15 CAD a barrel and the economy recovering by January, the government projects a $3.3-billion shortfall for 2020-21.
“Our government has committed to provide all financial resources necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will likely result in spending increases beyond the amounts allocated in the 2020-21 Estimates,” Harpauer said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Saskatchewan was anticipating a balanced budget, but with the coronavirus having an effect on the world’s economy, the province had to increase spending in health care and social transfers.
“The 2020-21 deficit is not a structural deficit,” Harpauer said. “It is a pandemic deficit. Saskatchewan will manage through this, because we have the strength, the foundation and the people to do it.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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