This afternoon (Tues) Saskatchewan residents will find out just how the next fiscal year is going to pan out with the provincial budget. This will be the first budget for Scott Moe as Premier and Donna Harpauer as Finance Minister.
The Premier has said previously that this would be a challenging budget but has also promised more Education funding, following last year’s $54-million cut. Moe promised to bring back $30-million of that funding. The NDP is calling for investments in core services rather than cuts. NDP Leader Ryan Meili says investing money in core services will save money in the long run. The 2018-19 budget is set to be tabled in the Legislature this afternoon.
The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union is requesting an end to costly private consultant contracts and rebuilding the public service. SGEU president Bob Bymoen says the Ministry of Highways spent $49-million on private consultants last year, which is 4 times as much as was spent in 2009. A 2014 report by the Provincial Auditor cited the use of consultants in Central Services as excessive and not cost-effective. Bymoen is also concerned with the privatizing of public services. He cites the Highways Ministry phasing out in-house engineering and related support services including two labs in Regina and Saskatoon and turning the work over to private companies as an example. It hasn’t led to lower costs, Bymoen says, and instead the cost for highway repair per kilometer rose 58 per cent.