Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer speaks at the legislative building, in Regina, on June 15, 2020.

Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press

Spending restraint is on the horizon in Saskatchewan as the province begins to dig itself out of a deficit Premier Scott Moe’s government blames on the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer delivered the first-quarter update for 2020-21. It predicts $2.1-billion in red ink, down from the $2.4-billion initially expected in the June budget.

The government at the time said a fall in oil prices and economic shutdowns tied to the health crisis had led to a sharp decline in revenues and created a need for emergency spending.

Story continues below advertisement

Now, the government says most businesses are open and employment has recovered by 56,000 jobs, although the hotel and food services industries are still hurting.

Oil prices are hovering above US$40 a barrel, a marked improvement from the US$16 a barrel recorded in April.

The Ministry of Finance now forecasts revenues of about $14-billion, up nearly $400-million since the budget. That’s mainly thanks to federal funding to provinces to help restart their economies after COVID-19 shutdowns.

The province’s expenses are expected to go up by $100-million because of spending on health, municipalities and a boost for the tourism industry.

Ms. Harpauer said she expects the provincial economy and its revenues to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels in the next two years. Finance officials drafted the outlook based on the assumption there will be no return to widespread COVID-19 business closures.

The province isn’t projected to squeeze out a surplus, however, until 2024-25, which means running deficits in the meantime.

“We fully recognize that we’re going to, yes, have austerity budgets, but that doesn’t mean cutting. That just means minding spending,” Ms. Harpauer said at a news conference.

Story continues below advertisement

“Can we have any large grandiose announcements probably for the next couple of years? I’m going to say not, unless it’s going to stimulate further growth into the future.”

A provincial election is set for Oct. 26. Ms. Harpauer said the Saskatchewan Party’s platform and costing will be based on the financial picture outlined Thursday.

“I believe the Saskatchewan people do believe that we should live within our means and that ... we should put our best efforts into balancing our budgets.”

Although she didn’t rule out tax increases, the minister said it’s not likely, because jurisdictional tax competitiveness is going to be more important than ever.

The Opposition criticized the update for lacking detail and called for the legislature to be reconvened so the numbers could be debated.

“It sort of baffles me when I heard the Finance Minister ... saying that it’s time for austerity,” said NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have an economy that’s in recession and people out of work. It certainly is not a time for more austerity and more cuts within Saskatchewan right now.”

The NDP called for more spending on education and more focus on creating jobs.

“Saskatchewan people are expecting and counting on their government to step up to the needs and challenge that we face,” said Mr. Wotherspoon.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies