‘A swing and a miss’: Saskatchewan premier comments on federal budget, deficit

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe commented on the release of the federal budget Tuesday afternoon at the Legislature, saying the $39.8-billion deficit projected for 2024-25 is more than the province can handle.

“It’s more than we are willing to bear and it’s very unfortunate that this is a government that won’t even try,” Moe said.

He said the Saskatchewan Party asked the federal government to deliver two things in the 2024-25 budget; more funding towards municipal infrastructure and for the carbon price to be removed.

“We see that actually increase,” Moe said. “A swing and a miss on both of those fronts I would say.”

He suggested the money be moved from the housing funding portions of the budget and return it to municipal infrastructure funding.

“A house being built without water or sewer services is not that valuable to a municipality,” he said.

Primarily focused on housing programs, this budget contains $57 billion in new spending.

The 2024 budget promises to build 3.87 million new homes by 2031 — two million more than the current expected pace — with a slew of measures and funding to scale up the pace of new home construction.

Financial news and insights
delivered to your email every Saturday.

“We are acting today to ensure fairness for every generation,” Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in the House of Commons Tuesday as she tabled the Liberals’ 2024 budget.

“We are moving with purpose to help build more homes faster. We are making life cost less. We are driving the kind of economic growth that will ensure every generation of Canadians can reach their full potential.”

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the $6-billion housing and infrastructure program promised for the city is a welcome initiative.

“There will be infrastructure dollars that will be going to help the need for housing but also the infrastructure around housing,” Clark said, saying that the city is working hard to increase high-density housing in Saskatoon’s main corridors.

He added he has concerns around the conditions attached to the dollars including agreements that must be made between the province and federal government to unlock the funds.

Clark also said some of the funds should be connected to recreational facilities and other buildings in downtown Saskatoon to support the area’s revitalization.

“We don’t see any dollars towards that,” Clark said.

He added he was happy to see funding allocated to addressing homelessness and also money directed towards the Canadian Light Source, VIDO and other University of Saskatchewan programs.

Moe also agreed the budget details aren’t all bad, noting five years of carbon taxation dollars paid by small businesses is going to be returned. 

Billed as the Canada Carbon Rebate for Small Businesses, the plan involves more than $2.5 billion that has been collected through the federal fuel charge in provinces where Ottawa’s carbon price applies over the last five years, including Saskatchewan.

“After they taketh away from small businesses, they are going to giveth some of their money back,” Moe said.

The commitment to return the money was promised by the federal government in 2019.

Moe said if the federal government reduced its spending and increased investments in communities to grow the economy and tax base, which he noted the Saskatchewan Party is doing, the government could tackle the $39.8-billion deficit.

— with files from Global News’ Craig Lord

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Read the full article here