Saskatchewan’s deficit has decreased more than what was anticipated at the end of the fiscal year.
The provincial government announced Wednesday that the deficit has fallen to $1.13 billion to end 2020-2021 – a decrease of $1.3 billion.
Finance Minister Donna Harpauer reminded that it’s still a deficit and there are concerns, but she called it an improvement from their $2.4-billion deficit projection in the budget.
Harpauer said there were a number of factors that contributed to the decrease thanks to both higher-than-budgeted revenue and lower-than-budgeted expense.
“Revenue side, we had two transfers from the federal government that was significant for their programs regarding COVID, and in addition we had much stronger returns in investments in the Crown corporations such as in SGI and the Workers’ Compensation Board,” explained Harpauer.
“On expenses, the largest improvement we saw was much lower than anticipated claims in crop insurance. We had a good crop year, which again is a shining light for Saskatchewan through this COVID time.”
Total revenue of $14.52 billion in 2020-21 is up $875 million from the budget projection. Total expense of $15.65 billion in 2020-21 is $424 million with the most notable increases in health, economic development and community development, primarily due to COVID-related expenses.
Harpauer however said this announcement doesn’t change their target date to return to balance.
“What will make a difference to our projected return to balance will be the recovery,” she suggested. “We injected $1.5 billion of one-time spending for the most part to encourage that recovery and stimulate the economy.”
The province has projected a balanced budget by the 2026-27 fiscal year.