Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer delivered the 2023-24 provincial budget earlier today. The government, led by Premier Scott Moe, predicts a budget surplus of $1billion on the heels of impressive economic outcomes and population growth.
According to new estimates released today by Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan’s population grew by 29,307 to 1,214,618 people in 2022. That’s the most significant increase in population for Saskatchewan in a single year since 1914.
Entitled “Growth That Works For Everyone”, the budget noted that revenue of $19.7 billion is forecast, up $2.5 billion or 14.7 percent, from last year’s budget. The higher revenue forecast is mainly due to $9.6 billion in taxation revenue, a $1.5 billion increase over last year.
Expenses in the 2023-24 Budget are expected to be $18.7 billion, up $1.0 billion or 5.9 percent, from last year’s budget. The department of Health will see a budget increase of 6.7 percent,
Key initiatives outlined in the budget include:
$98.8 million, an increase of $82.7 million over last year’s budget, for the Health Human Resources (HHR) action plan.
$55.5 million in this budget, an increase of $44.9 million from last year, will recruit 250 full-time positions and expand part-time positions in rural and remote areas around the province. Including $10 million to support the continuation of a 150-seat expansion in nursing programs and $2.4 million to train internationally educated health care providers.
$518 million for mental health and addictions programs and services, including a targeted investment of $12.4 million over last year
In Advanced Education, $25.2 million in new funding will expand training programs. Approximately 550 seats will be added across 18 health training programs to help address critical markets.
$42.5 million to fund the largest volume of surgical procedures, with an expected 6000 additional surgeries to be performed this year.
A $39.0 million increase in this budget supports seniors’ care, including $17.6 million to procure additional long-term care beds in Regina and $9.3 million to support third-party long-term care providers.
$382.4 million for early learning and child care, an increase of $72.1 million or 23.3 per cent over last year. The funding supports young families in our province, helping make life more affordable. It will reduce child care fees for families of children up to the age of six to $10 per day as of April 1, 2023.
This budget includes $764.8 million for the post-secondary education sector this year, an increase of $24.5 million or 3.3 per cent. It includes $47 million for student supports, a 24 per cent increase from last year due to growing use of the Student Aid Fund and the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship. There is also $65 million for the Graduate Retention Program, which provides up to $20,000 in tax credits to post-secondary students who stay and work in Saskatchewan after graduation.
Modest increases in social assistance.
In relation to public safety and justice, funding is allocated for second stage housing for victims of intimate partner violence, and for the creation of the Saskatchewan Marshals Service (SMS). By 2026, the SMS is expected to have 70 officers, and its role will be to support the RCMP and municipal police operations were appropriate, with a focus rural areas.
Funding to open the Saskatchewan Trade Office in Germany.
The 2023-24 Budget includes the highest level ever of Municipal Revenue Sharing – $297.9 million, an increase of $35.3 million or 13.4 per cent, from last year’s budget. The budget includes $503 million of direct provincial support to municipalities, an increase of $54.5 million.
$249.1 million in targeted funding for Indigenous and Métis people and organizations, representing an increase of 6.8 per cent from last year.
$442.9 million into transportation capital, including
over 1,000 kilometres of improvements on provincial highways.
The province’s capital budget is also significant. Touted as the largest infrastructure investment in SK history, $3.7 billion in capital project funding will be allocated. This includes nearly $1.7 billion in capital projects across Executive government, and approximately $2.1 billion in capital projects by Saskatchewan’s commercial Crown corporations. This funding includes:
$204.5 million to support major capital projects, including the redevelopment of the Prince Albert Victoria Hospital, the replacement of the Weyburn General Hospital, new Urgent Care Centres in Regina and Saskatoon, and long-term care centres throughout Saskatchewan;
$115.7 million for 20 ongoing capital projects to build 15 new schools and renovate five existing schools
Approximately $1.2 billion through SaskPower to continue construction of the new 350 MW natural gas-fired electrical plant at Moose Jaw, upgrades at the EB Campbell hydroelectric station, and beginning construction on the Logistic Warehouse Complex to centralize regional services around Regina;
$412.7 million through SaskTel to support quality networks, continued deployment of fibre to rural customers, and modernization of network infrastructure through the rollout of SaskTel’s 5G wireless network.