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City of Weyburn happy with provincial budget

The City of Weyburn was happy with the new provincial budget, brought down on Wednesday afternoon at the Legislature.
City Hall 8981
The City of Weyburn was happy to hear they are approved for the rehabilitation of First Avenue, and funds for the ongoing construction of the new hospital, in Wednesday's budget.

WEYBURN – The City of Weyburn was happy with the new provincial budget, brought down on Wednesday afternoon at the Legislature by Finance Minister Donna Harpauer, with funding announced for the ongoing construction of the new hospital and for the First Avenue rehabilitation project.

The budget tabled by Harpauer in the Legislature Wednesday is the final budget of her tenure as Finance Minister, and the last one for Premier Scott Moe before he heads to the polls again in a provincial election later this year.

The $19.9 billion revenue forecast for the 2024-25 Budget is up $184.2 million from last year. The increase is primarily due to growth in all revenue categories, except non-renewable resources largely due to the moderation of potash prices.

Total expense is projected at $20.1 billion in the 2024-25 budget, an increase of $1.5 billion, or 7.9 per cent, over last year’s budget. 

The 2024-25 budget has a projected deficit of $273.2 million, but is expected to return to a surplus position in 2025-26 due to increasing revenues driven by a growing population, labour force and economy.

Coun. Jeff Richards, commenting for the City of Weyburn as Mayor Marcel Roy is in Saskatoon for meetings, said the City is excited that, first, the ongoing construction of the new hospital is getting $55 million this year, with a view to complete construction by the end of 2025.

Secondly, the increase in revenue sharing will be a help to the City, along with funding from the Department of Highways for the rehabilitation of First Avenue, from Government Road to 13th Street.

“We went ahead and gave engineering the go-ahead for some of the pre-work just so we’d be ready. That’s really good news, because it definitely needs work, it’s important to us,” said Coun. Richards.

He added the ongoing work to improve Highway 6/39 is good for Weyburn as it helps bring traffic to the city by increasing the quality of the highway infrastructure.

To the Opposition NDP’s dismay, there is no removal of the gas tax, something the NDP has called for daily in Question Period in recent weeks.

During the Opposition’s embargoed media availability Wednesday morning, Opposition Leader Carla Beck and Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon hammered the Sask Party on the affordability issue, accusing them of delivering no cost of living relief in the budget, with no cuts to the gas tax and also no cuts to the PST.

Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan commented that the budget already includes measures for affordability for residents, “and those were confirmed again this year, with provincial tax rates. We also made the decision not to collect the carbon tax on natural gas bills, and that should save households about $400 a year.”

He also noted that the funds collected in gas tax at the pumps goes directly into the Highways budget, to help do upgrades and improvements to the province’s roads and highways. He noted the work on Highway 6/39, as well as on a stretch of Highway 6 north of Pangman to occur this year.

“If we take the revenues from gas taxes away, it’s going to come from somewhere. We don’t want to go back in time when our highways were deteriorating,” said Duncan, adding he is “absolutely” happy about this strong budget for the government heading into the spring sitting and then the fall election.

“I think this is a very strong budget and puts us into a strong position going into the election,” he added.

There is little of surprise in the education budget, details of which were largely unveiled a couple of weeks earlier by Premier Scott Moe on social media. 

As expected, there is a record investment of $3.3 billion for education, up 8.1 per cent or $247.8 million. The 27 school divisions will receive $2.2 billion in school operating funding, an increase of $180 million or 8.8 per cent. And there is $356.6 million in classroom supports, up $45.6 million over last year, including a commitment to addressing classroom size and complexity. 

It includes $793.0 million in funding for the post-secondary education sector, an increase of 3.7 per cent. 

Post-secondary students will benefit directly from $46.5 million in financial supports, including a new grant to help reduce financial barriers to completing post-secondary education for low-income students with dependents.

The budget provides the Saskatchewan Health Authority with nearly $4.7 billion, including an operating increase of $248.3 million, or 5.6 per cent, compared to last year - another record investment in the 2024-25 Provincial Budget.

Included in capital health care spending is $55 million towards the ongoing construction on Weyburn’s new hospital facility.

For cities, towns, villages and municipalities throughout Saskatchewan, this budget provides a record increase of $42.4 million in municipal revenue sharing. This is an increase of 14.2 per cent from the previous year, for a total of $340.2 million in unconditional support for municipalities in the province.

The budget provides $29.5 million to support municipalities and industry partners in making investments in the provincial transportation system. These investments support economic growth and safety on rural and municipal roads.

The Saskatchewan Housing Corporation will invest $83.4 million to repair and maintain provincially owned housing units, including an additional $9.6 million in provincial funding to prevent and reduce vacancies and respond to the increasing demand for social housing.

The 2024-25 Budget invests $570.6 million in agriculture, an increase of $22.4 million, or 4.1 per cent, from last year.