Report from the Legislature – March 21, 2013

The theme of the 2013-2014 provincial budget is “Balanced Growth.”  This year’s budget is balanced, controls spending and continues to make investments to ensure a better quality life for all Saskatchewan people.  It also delivers on commitments we made in the Plan for Growth.

Saskatchewan remains the only province with a balanced budget.  This is key to achieving our Growth Plan goal of 1.2 million people by 2020.   Through prudent management of the province’s finances, including debt reduction saving hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments, we lay a solid foundation for the future.

In the 2013-14 budget, our government continues to make investments to ensure a better quality of life for Saskatchewan people.  Seniors Income Plan benefits increase to $250 a month – a 178 per cent increase since 2007.   Benefits under the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program are also increasing as we work toward our Growth Plan goal of making Saskatchewan the best place in Canada to live for people with disabilities.

This year’s budget provides support for victims of domestic violence through the opening of the first new transition house in Saskatchewan since 1989 – in Melfort – and increased funding for women’s shelters across the province.  We are committing $70.5 million to the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative – which will result in 7,000 additional surgeries performed this year as we work toward our goal of no one waiting more than three months for surgery by 2014.

We are continuing to invest in the infrastructure a growing economy needs.   The 2013-14 budget contains:

  • $281million for highways including work on the West Regina Bypass, Estevan Bypass, and a series of passing lanes on Highway 10 between Balgonie and Fort Qu’Appelle and $168 million to repair and upgrade existing highways;
  • $86.5 million for Long Term Care facilities currently under construction; and
  • $50 million for the new Moose Jaw hospital.

Our “Balanced for Growth” budget also contains measures to support Saskatchewan’s growing economy.   For the third straight year, municipalities will receive record revenue sharing.   This year’s total is $264.4 million, an increase of 108 per cent since 2007.

We lowered education tax mill rates to help offset the recent property assessment.   With property values’ increasing by a record amount over the last four years, our government is taking action to ensure the amount collected in education property taxes remains revenue neutral this year.   That being said, some property owners who saw their assessment go up more than average may still see their taxes go up.

The 2013-14 budget contains $119.6 million to fund 21 ongoing major school capital projects, two new schools and 15 pre-K facilities.  With a projected need identified in the Growth Plan for 60,000 more workers by 2020, we are creating more training seats for the trades and taking further action to eliminate the wait list for Adult Basic Education by 2015.

Agriculture continues to play an important role in moving Saskatchewan forward.   To that end, we have invested in a record $198.3 million for Crop Insurance in the “Balanced for Growth” budget.  Crop Insurance coverage levels are also a record $194 per acre – more than double what was offered in 2007.   The budget also contains a record investment in agricultural research of $27.7 million and an increase of $25 million for strategic initiatives like rural water infrastructure, trade and market development and farm business management.   All of these investments will help us reach our Growth Plan goals.

The 2013-14 budget not only balances the books, it reflects and balances the priorities of Saskatchewan people.   Through controlled spending in key areas, we are promoting opportunity and supporting society’s most vulnerable citizens.   We are well-positioned to meet the challenges of growth.   This budget will keep Saskatchewan moving forward.