Saskatchewan legislature likely to resume in June with budget expected to be presented

Premier Scott Moe says Saskatchewan’s budget is something “this government can be proud of” and is encouraging the public to look over it closely when it is tabled in the legislature. Mark Taylor / The Canadian Press

Both the government and the opposition party agree June is a good time to get MLAs back to work at the legislature, but for how many days remains unknown.

On Thursday, government house leader Jeremy Harrison proposed the legislature resume on June 15 with the introduction of the 2020-21 budget.

The plan presented is an eight-day session with five question periods and 40 hours allocated for the standing committee to consider the estimates.

“We think that is inadequate. It needs to be more time for scrutiny of a budget. It’s nowhere near enough time for question period, and so we’ve returned with a proposal,” said opposition leader Ryan Meili.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan is one of two provinces in Canada with no plan to resume its legislature

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NDP house leader Cathy Sproule has countered the government’s offer by asking for 14 sitting days, 14 question periods and 60 hours of debate for the budget.

“This is the bare minimum approach to having scrutiny,” Meili said.

Premier Scott Moe stood by the government’s offer on Thursday.

“The option that we have put forward is the most comprehensive opportunity for budgetary and legislative scrutiny of any option that’s been put forward in this nation by any province or territory since the emergency measures have come into effect,” Moe said during a press conference.

“It’s a priority of this government to introduce and to pass a budget on behalf of the people, to have it have the legislative scrutiny that it deserves and also to have it have the purview and scrutiny of the people of this province.”

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Several provinces in Canada have yet to table their 2020-21 budget. This includes Saskatchewan, Ontario, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

READ MORE: Premier Moe wants Saskatchewan’s 2020-21 budget tabled, scrutinized before fall election

All other provinces tabled their budget in the legislature prior to the coronavirus pandemic derailing government business across Canada. However, not all budgets have passed or received the typical amount of time for debate.

For example, the Alberta budget was passed in three hours. And British Columbia’s budget will be passed in June, but it’s unknown how many days will be set aside for debate.

The premier added Saskatchewan’s budget is something “this government can be proud of” and is encouraging the public to look over it closely before the general election on Oct. 26.

The government says they will review Sproule’s counter-offer and will respond directly to the opposition.

“We will not be politically grandstanding by publicizing important work that is occurring by our house leadership team,” said the government in a statement.

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