Saskatchewan budget to put province ‘Back on Track’

The Government of Saskatchewan is getting ‘Back on Track’ as they unveiled their 2022-23 provincial budget.

The province will be running a deficit of $463 million. The province will invest $17.6 billion in expenses as the province looks to ‘strengthen and protect Saskatchewan, with key investments in priority areas including health, social services and assistance, education and protection of persons and property.

The province is expected to generate an estimated $17.2 billion revenue from taxation due to higher income and sales tax revenue projections in a strong economy and higher non-renewable resource revenue due to higher potash and oil price expectations growth.

Change
Revenue $14.4 Billion $17.2 Billion +18.5%
Expenses $17.0 Billion $17.6 Billion +3.1%
Deficit $2.6 Billion $463 Million -17.8%

The Government is looking to invest $600 million more than last year, with the majority of that going towards healthcare, education, social services, agriculture, all receiving investments of over one billion dollars.

2021-22 2022-23 Change
Health $6.535 billion $6.823 billion +4.4%
Education $3.735 billion $3.800 billion +1.3%
Social Services $1.556 billion $1.623 billion +4.3%
Agriculture $879.3 million $1,040 billion +18.3%
Protection of Person & Property $845.1 million $936.2 million +10.8%
Transportation $607.7 million $610.3 million +0.4%

Healthcare makes up 39 percent of the 2022-23 budget expenses.

An increase of $21.6 million will address the surgical backlog issue in the province and will fund thousands of additional surgeries in 2022-23. This is the first of a three-year plan, which plans to target a return to pre-COVID surgical wait time levels by the end of March 2025.

The government will look to address another problem facing the province, as they are establishing a new and independent agency dedicated to recruiting and retaining health care workers.

The province will also be investing an additional $1.5 million in recruitment initiatives, including developing a settlement and relocation incentive program to recruit healthcare workers from the Phillippines, assisting in filling critical and hard-to-fill positions. The province is looking to recruit 300 health sector employees over the next two years, with 150 in 2022-23.

There is also $12.5 million in new funding for 11 additional ICU beds, bringing the province’s total to 90, a $4.9 million increase for CT and MRI scans, which will allow thousands more patients to receive medical imaging services in 2022-23 and bring down wait times for these services which grew during the pandemic.

Seniors in the province will see a $17 million increase in support to live safely and comfortably, including $4.8 million for home care services, $4.1 million to provide high-dose influenza vaccine to adults 65 and older, $1.6 million to operate the Meadow Lake Northwest Community Lodge and $6.5 million for an additional 117 continuing care aide positions.

A $10.8 million increase in Emergency Medical Services will improve vital services in rural and remote areas. The increase will fund new paramedic positions for ambulance services Community Para-medicine and enhance the Medical First Responder Program.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the importance of mental health. The government is investing 470.0 million into mental health and addictions programs and services – seven per cent of total health care spending.

The increase will fund initiatives that provide effective counselling and treatments and introduce further proactive prevention measures. New targeted investments include $2.1 million to add addiction spaces in high-need areas in treatment centres.

Education makes up 22 per cent of the provincial budget with a total of $3.8 billion towards education, up to $47.2 million or 1.3 per cent from 2021-22.

Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions will receive $1.99 billion in operating funding for the 2022-23 school year, a $29.4 million increase – fully funding the 2.0 per cent salary increase as part of the Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement, and provides an additional $6.0 million in learning supports for students.

A new $7.0 million fund will allow school divisions to hire up to 200 additional full-time educational assistants for the 2022-23 school year, to support students and manage increasingly diverse classrooms.

Funding for child care and early learning is $309.6 million, including funding provided through the Federal-Provincial Early Years agreements. Of that funding, $4.3 million will create 6,100 new child care spaces in centres and family child care homes.

For post-secondary education, a total of $740.3 million, an increase of $5.6 million, will continue a multi-year investment into post-secondary institutions.

Part of that investment will include $30 million for the second of a two-year funding plan focusing on COVID-19 recovery, revenue generation, and sector collaboration.

It also includes nearly $38 million for student support, including $27 million to support the student loan program and $10.6 million for scholarships. Students will have access to approximately $95.0 million in loans and up-front grants in the coming year.

The province will also be focusing on healthcare through post-secondary education as a $4.9 million increase will expand nurse training by 150 seats.

Social Services saw early learning and child care investments of $2.3 million for the inclusion of children with disabilities, $8.0 million for preventative maintenance and repair of child care facilities and $11.4 million for training initiatives and supports for early childhood educators.

The budget also provides a $655,000 increase to expand the Early Childhood Intervention Program to 200 additional children, to address increased demand and waitlists for young children experiencing developmental delays and disabilities.

Agriculture expense is up $160.8 million from the previous budget (18.3 per cent), primarily due to higher projected crop insurance indemnities as a result of higher crop prices, as well as higher reinsurance premiums.

Protection of Persons and Property saw a 10.8% increase due primarily to the consolidation of provincial enforcement services from the environment and transportation themes under the new provincial protective services branch within the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety. There are also increases for the Royal Canadia Mounted Police and other areas across the justice system, including inflationary adjustments, gang violence reduction, court support services, and judges’ salaries.

The Government will continue to invest in highways with an $18.7 million increase in amortization expense for completed highway projects and increases for winter maintenance.

The province will improve 1,100 kilometres of highways this year with an investment of $846.0 million into operating, maintaining, building and improving the province’s roads. Some of the upgrades include twinning Highway 3 west of Prince Albert, completing ten sets of passing lanes on Highways 12 and 16, two sets of passing lanes to complete the multi-year corridor improvements on Highway 7 from Saskatoon to the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, two sets of passing lanes and widening on Highway 5 from Saskatoon to Humboldt, and planning and preconstruction for twinning projects on Highways 6 and 39 near Regina and Weyburn.

The province is also investing in film and television. The government announced an increase of $8.0 million for the Creative Saskatchewan Production Grant Program for film and television, bringing the total funds available to $10.0 million. Through the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport, the increase will draw more and larger projects to the province.

The province is estimating that Saskatchewan will see $50.0 million of new investment in film and television production and economic activity across the province. This will increase spending in sectors like the hospitality industry. Only Saskatchewan labour, goods and services are eligible for support under the program, ensuring dollars stay in the province.

The provincial government is also looking to increase its revenue by $2.8 billion.

Taxation has estimated an increase of $854 million over last year’s budget to $8.1 billion due to higher forecast income and sales tax revenue. Non-renewable resource revenue will account for the majority of the increase in revenue, as it is up to $1.6 billion over the last budget to $2.9, primarily driven by higher potash and oil price expectations.

A significant change that residents will notice is the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is being applied to admission and entertainment charges. That includes sporting events, concerts, museums, fairs, gym memberships, and green fees, effective October 1 of this year. It will follow the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), and anything there is a GST on, there will now be a PST.

There will be exceptions, including school, university or minor league sports and amateur productions with unpaid participants. Also, recreational programs like sports, dance or music provided by schools or non-profits for those 14 years of age and under, and fundraising events were part of the cost of admission is considered a donation to a charity.

The government expects revenue from this change to be $10.5 million in 2022-23 and $21.0 million annually.

The Tobacco tax is increaseing by two cents per cigarette, from 27 cents to 29 cents, and eight cents per gram for loose tobacco.

Minister Donna Haupauer said that they are looking to have the budget balanced in 2026-2027, with smaller deficits in 2023-24 ($384 million), 2024-25 ($321), and 2025-26 ($165).

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