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Saskatchewan not tabling full budget, says revenue forecasts no longer accurate


REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says it is not releasing its full budget as planned on Wednesday because its revenues are no longer accurate given current economic uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government said it will outline its spending plans for the coming year, but not provide revenue forecasts. The plan is to release a financial update with the forecasts in the summer or fall.

"The revenues are very, very difficult to predict, not just in Saskatchewan, but across Canada and, I would say, around the world right now," Premier Scott Moe said Tuesday.

"You're seeing further admission of that here in this province."

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said in a release that there will be increased spending in most areas, including more money for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which is dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Moe, who had previously said the 2020-21 budget would be balanced, said Tuesday he's no longer committed to that and is willing to run a deficit.

"Where the resources are needed we will provide it," said Moe.

"I cannot commit that it is going to be balanced until we see where the revenue lines come in a little bit later this year."

The Opposition NDP had been calling for the government to delay the budget release.

Leader Ryan Meili said the spending numbers will be meaningless without a clear indication of what revenues are.

"Twenty-four hours ago this government was very much full-speed ahead on the budget," he said.

"It finally seems to have dawned on (Moe) that that wasn't an appropriate thing to do given what's going on in the economy, but they were very reluctant to make this change."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2020

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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