March 20, 2019

2019-20 Budget Provides The Right Balance With Capital Investment Of $2.7 Billion

The 2019-20 Budget provides the right balance for Saskatchewan with investments into infrastructure for a growing province—in both urban and rural Saskatchewan.

“Our province’s population and our economy are growing,” Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said.  “This budget strikes the right balance by investing into the hospitals, schools, highways, and Crown infrastructure that Saskatchewan people need.”

The 2019-20 Budget delivers $2.7 billion for infrastructure investment in 2019-20, consisting of $1.6 billion of capital investment in the commercial Crown sector, and $1.1 billion in capital investment by Executive Government ministries and agencies.

This budget provides capital investment of $103 million for health care infrastructure, including $12 million to begin construction of a new long-term care facility to replace the Northland Pioneers Lodge in Meadow Lake.  The budget also provides a combined $5.0 million for preconstruction design of a new Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert and for the planning and design of a new hospital in Weyburn.

Infrastructure investment in the K-12 school system in the 2019-20 Budget exceeds $95 million.  Projects include consolidation and replacement of St. Pius and Argyle schools in Regina, and a new joint-use school to replace Sacred Heart, St. Mary, Empire, and Westmount schools in Moose Jaw.  The budget also provides funding to plan the replacement of St. Frances School in Saskatoon, and $29 million for ongoing construction of new schools in Rosthern and Weyburn.

Municipal infrastructure funding exceeds $229 million in this budget, an 11 per cent increase from last year.  That includes new funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, as well as funding to continue commitments under the New Building Canada Plan, Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, and the Public Transit Fund.

Crown Corporation Capital

Saskatchewan’s major commercial Crown corporations will undertake a number of capital projects in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

SaskPower’s $873 million planned capital investments will connect more customers and expand electricity generation assets.  SaskPower will continue to renew its distribution and transmission systems this year, with the goal of achieving a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030.

SaskTel will enhance service to its customers with capital investments totalling $321 million in 2019-20.  This will allow SaskTel to upgrade its wireless and wireline networks, as well as continue the rollout of infiNET, the corporation’s high-speed fibre-optic internet service.  SaskTel is continuing to enhance rural services, and has announced the addition of 41 new cellular sites this year as part of a two-year initiative.  By March 2020, SaskTel will have added 100 new cellular sites in smaller communities across Saskatchewan.

SaskEnergy will make $340 million in capital investments in 2019-20 to meet growing customer demand, as well as to ensure the integrity of its natural gas transmission and distribution systems.

SaskWater’s planned $32 million in capital investments in 2019-20 will go toward maintenance of existing infrastructure, as well as the creation of new water and wastewater systems.

Debt Management

At March 31, 2020, the province’s net debt is forecast to be $12.4 billion, one of the lowest among provinces as a percentage of GDP.  All government debt, including that of Crown corporations, is forecast to remain manageable at $21.7 billion at March 31, 2020—up $1.7 billion from last year’s budget due to further investment in capital.

The government’s operating debt is forecast to remain unchanged in 2019-20, at $6.15 billion—about 10 per cent lower than it was in 2008, resulting in cumulative savings of nearly $1.2 billion in interest payments.