“This budget contains no new taxes or tax increases, so it’s the right balance to keep our economy strong. It balances much-needed investments with carefully managed spending in order to achieve a balanced budget that is affordable and sustainable, now and in the years ahead.”
The 2019-20 Budget is balanced, with a projected surplus of $34.4 million. Higher surpluses of $49 million, $72 million, and $84 million are projected for the three fiscal years that follow.
The government’s operational debt will not increase in 2019-20. Revenue is forecast at $15.03 billion, up about $782 million, or 5.5 per cent, compared to last year’s budget. Expense of $14.99 billion is projected, up from the previous year’s budget by $382 million, or 2.6 per cent.
Investing in Health
Total investment in health in 2019-20 is projected to be $5.89 billion, an increase of $123 million, or 2.1 per cent, compared to last year’s budget. The budget increases operating funding to the Saskatchewan Health Authority to $3.6 billion, up more than $113 million, or 3.2 per cent, compared to last year.
Harpauer said the 2019-20 Budget includes a strong focus on mental health. Funding for targeted mental health and addictions initiatives is increasing by nearly $30 million in this budget to a total of nearly $402 million. This represents the largest commitment ever to mental health services in Saskatchewan, and it includes funding for more than 140 new beds for mental health and addictions treatment.
The 2019-20 Budget also provides a $700,000 increase for the Autism Individualized Funding benefit, increasing the benefit from $4,000 to $6,000 per year for children under age six.
Specific health care capital investments in this budget include funding the preconstruction design of a new Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert. The 2019-20 Budget also invests in planning for a new hospital in Weyburn.
Support for Seniors
The 2019-20 Budget continues to improve care for seniors by investing to replace the Northland Pioneers Lodge in Meadow Lake, fulfilling the government’s commitment to replace 13 long-term care facilities for seniors across the province. This budget also increases home care support to help people stay safely in their homes as long as possible through the Connected Care program.
The 2019-20 Budget also provides $1.1 million—an increase of more than $660,000—to the Alzheimer Society for the First Link program.
Investing in Social Services
The 2019-20 Budget makes a $1.43 billion investment in social services and assistance, an increase of $51.4 million, or 3.7 per cent, compared to last year. The budget provides an increase of more than $27 million to support at-risk children and families. Community-based organizations and those who deliver services to children and families and provide support for people with intellectual disabilities will receive an additional $5.9 million in 2019-20.
The budget also provides a $6.6 million increase in support for adults with intellectual disabilities, and $1.4 million has been designated to increase monthly payments for foster families who complete training.
Investing in Education
The 2019-20 Budget invests in our children’s education—$3.28 billion in total, up more than $19 million compared to last year. Saskatchewan’s school divisions will receive $1.9 billion in operating funding for the 2019-20 school year, an increase of more than $26 million year over year.
“This budget increases school division funding while Education Property Tax rates remain unchanged,” Harpauer said. “This budget includes more than $72 million for child care, enabling the provision of more than 16,700 child care spaces across the province. That’s an increase of 7,000 spaces since 2007-08.”
Funding for the Ministry of Advanced Education exceeds $727 million in the 2019-20 Budget. More than $672 million of that amount will go toward operating and capital grants for Saskatchewan’s post-secondary institutions—including nearly $88 million in funding for the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
Investing in Communities and Community Safety
To improve safety at highway intersections, the 2019-20 Budget provides $13 million as the first step of a five-year, $65 million Enhanced Intersection Safety Program that will improve signage, sight lines and lighting and add safety features like rumble strips at intersections throughout the province.
The budget also includes more than $60 million for twinning and passing lane projects. Overall, the budget provides funding to improve about 1,000 kilometres of the highway network in 2019-20.
The 2019-20 Budget includes more than $15 million to continue funding 128 municipal police positions and targeted policing initiatives across the province. A $1.1 million increase has been designated for drug-impaired driving detection training for police.
The 2019-20 Budget provides more than $251 million in municipal revenue sharing, a $10.5 million increase compared to last year.
“A new formula, developed by the province with the municipal sector, is based on revenue generated by three-quarters of one percentage point of the Provincial Sales Tax,” Harpauer said. “Since 2007-08, municipal revenue sharing has nearly doubled—an increase of more than $124 million.”
Including revenue sharing, infrastructure funding, and a number of other grants and initiatives, the 2019-20 Budget provides more than $437 million in direct provincial support to municipalities from multiple ministries across government—an increase of $25.4 million or 6.2 per cent compared to last year.
The 2019-20 Budget also includes $211 million in targeted investment that will benefit First Nations and Métis people, communities, businesses, and organizations, a 4.7 per cent increase compared to last year.
This budget also provides an increase of $2.25 million, for a total of $27 million, to help deliver the SARCAN Beverage Container Collection and Recycling Program.
The 2019-20 Budget contains new, non-refundable tax credits for volunteer firefighters and volunteer medical first responders who serve to protect and help Saskatchewan people when they need it most.
Beginning with the 2020 taxation year, individuals with at least 200 hours of volunteer service in a year will be able to claim a $3,000 tax credit.
The budget also includes measures that will ensure the people of Saskatchewan receive a fair and balanced return for their potash.
“The base payment component of the Potash Production Tax is intended to provide a simple flat payment per tonne of potash sales,” Harpauer said. “However, it has gradually been eroded by currently allowable deductions. To address this, effective April 1, the calculation of the Potash Production Tax will be simplified by eliminating these deductions.
“This budget also achieves the right balance by investing a total of $2.7 billion into hospitals, schools, highways, and municipal and Crown infrastructure to help meet the needs of a growing population and economy, while ensuring that debt is managed responsibly. The 2019-20 Budget is part of our government’s plan to continue to balance into the future, and sustain needed investments in high-quality government services for all Saskatchewan people.”