The Saskatchewan government said it will table its 2021-22 budget on April 6 when the spring sitting of the legislature starts.
“The new budget will be the main focus of the spring sitting,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Thursday in a statement.
“It will be a budget designed to see Saskatchewan through the rest of the pandemic and then into a strong economic recovery as we get more of our population vaccinated and life returns to normal.”
In November 2020, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer forecast a deficit of $2 billion for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
She also said that the budget is expected to be balanced by 2024-25.
However, officials cautioned at the time that a full economic recovery is tied to COVID-19 outcomes.
The official Opposition said the recall of the legislature for the spring session is later than normal, leaving little time for scrutiny of the government.
“Bringing MLAs back to work nearly a month late does a disservice to all the people of this province,” said Saskatchewan NDP house leader Vicki Mowat.
“They are trying to use this terrible pandemic to ram through legislation with little debate, and at the same time avoid as many questions as possible on the failing COVID-19 response. Saskatchewan deserves better.”
Moe said recovery will be the main theme of the budget.
“The budget will make important investments in health, education, infrastructure and our economic recovery, while at the same time continuing to work toward our commitment to balance the budget by 2024.”
The NDP also called on the government to release the third-quarter financial report before the budget is released and asked for the human services committee to be reconvened to look at the province’s pandemic response and vaccine immunization plan.
“The Sask. Party had to be dragged kicking and screaming into an emergency session to discuss the pandemic in the summer and managed to get out of the very short fall session without introducing any new supports that would help people get through this pandemic,” Mowat said.
The spring sitting is expected to last for eight weeks.