WEYBURN – Funds for the first year of construction on Weyburn’s new hospital facility were provided in the provincial budget, brought down in the Legislature on Wednesday.
Finance minister Donna Harpauer is projecting a surplus of $1 billion in the budget, with revenues to total $19.7 billion, up 14.7 per cent from last year’s budget, and spending will total $18.7 billion, up 5.9 per cent.
Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA and Education minister Dustin Duncan said a good portion of that surplus will go towards paying down the province’s debt, a move that has been viewed positively by many people.
Municipalities will see revenue sharing set at $297.9 million, an increase of $35.3 million or 13.4 per cent from last year’s budget. For the City of Weyburn, they will receive $2,264,516 in revenue sharing, up from $1,994,406 last year.
Health spending will total $7.1 billion, including $55.5 million in health care spending, and a $98.8 million Health Human Resources action plan for recruiting and retaining health care staff.
On the capital side, the province will spend $207.1 million for health infrastructure, with $38 million of that set aside for the first year of building on Weyburn’s hospital.
“That project has certainly been anticipated for some time now, and we’ll see construction begin fairly soon,” said Duncan, noting there will be a ground-breaking ceremony held once the thaw has finished, likely after construction has actually begun on the site.
Weyburn’s Court House will see funds for the reopening of the Court of King’s Bench and sheriff’s office, with $1.3 million provided for both Weyburn and Lloydminster’s registry office.
MLA Duncan noted the announcement for the court house was made by the Justice Minister last year, and now the funding is in place for that to go ahead. The ministry has been doing interviews to fill the positions that will be in place in the registrar’s office and for Court of King’s Bench.
“As always, the government is pumping more money into health care, and it’s good to see they’re also pumping more money into education,” said Mayor Marcel Roy, noting funding is also up for social services, and the new marshal services is also getting about $7 million in this budget, although he pointed out it’s not operational here until 2025.
He noted about 1,000 km of highways are being funded, which includes a twinning project on Highway 39/6 near Rowatt and Corinne, between Regina and Weyburn.
The funding for the new hospital in Weyburn is good, he added, but he pointed out that project is totally in the hands of the Saskathewan Health Authority. The only role the City has played was to provide the land for the hospital on Fifth Avenue North, and to provide the utilities for the new facility.
Mayor Roy noted that Prince Albert is also getting funding for their new hospital, which they did not have to raise money for, while Weyburn’s Hospital Foundation has been raising money for the hospital for several years now.
“I’m very happy with the hospital foundation, and how they have stepped up to pay our share of the costs,” he said, hoping they will now actually see this project move forward now after many years of talking about it.
“We have a sign and a fence so far. Let’s see whether they come across with the actual construction,” he added.
Coun. Jeff Richards was able to be present at the Legislature for the budget presentation, and commented this is a good budget for Weyburn, highlighted by the funding for the new hospital.
“We’re excited about that,” he said, noting there is also money for the court services, and $118,000 for improvements to the intersection of 16th Street and First Avenue.
The funding for recruiting and retaining health care workers is also good, considering this new facility is coming to Weyburn, he added.
“There are no new taxes or tax increases. This was a good budget for us, so I’m very happy with it,” added Coun. Richards.
During his visit to the Legislature, he talked with representatives of other municipalities, and said overall most were very positive about this budget.