On Thursday, the Canadian government released this year’s federal budget plan, allocating spending amongst a number of different sectors. While some Saskatchewanians praised the plan, others criticized some decisions.
Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) president Randy Goulden had mixed feelings about the budget plan.
“We applaud many things that were in the budget,” Goulden said. “But we also have concerns that some of the priorities that SUMA has for our province have been missed.”
One concern specifically for Saskatchewan municipality leaders is the inflationary increase for infrastructure projects. Goulden says that coupled with ongoing supply chain issues, increasing prices will likely lead to project delays.
“With the agreements that we have in place with the provincial and the federal orders of government, it’s the municipalities that have to pick up this cost. They either have to reapply for the increased funding and go back into the pool again and into that competition or they pick up the costs themselves…it’ll be very difficult to complete these projects in a timely fashion.”
Goulden says she knows many of these projects are essential and SUMA will continue to advocate for these concerns.
Inflation is one of the main issues concerning Canadians as of late.
While the federal budget may not have completely addressed the issue, Jason Childs, an economics professor at the University of Regina, says it only complicates things more.
“It’s probably going to make inflation worse,” Childs said. “This budget has basically said to the Bank of Canada, ‘Inflation is your problem, you fix it. We’re going to continue to accelerate spending and put pressure on inflation through the fiscal channels.'”
Federal budget’s impact on agriculture in Saskatchewan
Climate change and the carbon tax is another issue that the government has been trying to tackle in their federal budget plan.
The federal government is also planning to rebate $100 million from the carbon tax to farmers in provinces where the federal system applies, including Saskatchewan. But some in Saskatchewan’s agricultural sector don’t feel that it’s enough.
Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) president Ian Boxall says the rebate is a start, but he feels that it’s nowhere close to being enough to cover the increasing costs of carbon pricing.
“We could be upwards of $4.92 an acre in carbon tax alone,” Boxall said. “So in my 4000-acre farm, we’re looking at 18 to $20,000. That’s a huge, huge amount of money to come off our bottom line. So, $100 million to the provinces in the backstop, it’s really just a drop in the bucket.”
Like Goulden, Boxall mentions infrastructure funding as another area of concern. He says Canada’s infrastructure system is fairly flawed and it sometimes is unreliable to get products to port and to export quickly.
“We’ve got to get the government moving more quickly on some of these investments in infrastructure…we are going to miss out on some huge export opportunities here if we don’t start moving this along a lot quicker.”
Boxall does praise the government’s $2.75 billion investment into high-speed internet access in rural and remote communities. However, he hopes that more of that money will be spent to support rural and remote areas in Saskatchewan.