By Judy Bird

UPDATED

Finance Minister Ken Krawetz presented his final budget today in the Saskatchewan Legislature.

“Despite our challenges in the oil sector our economy is strong and Saskatchewan is strong. This budget is about keeping Saskatchewan strong,” said Krawetz.

Overall revenue from the budget is $14.28 billion, up 1.2% from last year, while overall spending is $14.17 billion, which is also up 1.2% from last year.

Krawetz said the budget will have a $107 million surplus.

Funding for health, education and social services increases about 2% while all other areas were cut on average by 0.6%.

The budget provides over $20 million in operating funding support for First Nations and Metis post-secondary education, including increases for the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, the First Nations University of Canada, Gabriel Dumont Institute, Dumont Technical Institute and the Northern Teacher Education Program/Northern Professional Access College.

For First Nations and Metis funding, overall spending is decreased in this budget, down $2.9 million from last year.  The cut includes an end of program funding for the North American Indigenous Games, which happened last year in Regina, and the School Capital for Prekindergarten Programs Targeted in High Needs Areas. It includes a decreases in the First Nations and Metis Consultation Participation Fund, a decrease in gaming agreement transfers, and decreased funds for Saskatchewan and First Nations Family and Community Institute and First Nations Home Assessments.

Three positive points include an additional $1 million for funding for training initiatives for Labour Market Development jobs, an additional $500,000 for First Nations On-Reserve Policing and Enhanced Policing and and additional $100,000 for First Nations and Northern Forest Protection Workers.

Other budget highlights include:

  • no tax increases, including “sin taxes” on purchases like cigarettes
  • more spending on infrastructure projects such as highway, school, and health facility projects
  • job creation by helping the private sector through incentives for creating new jobs
  • changes to the Graduate Retention Program to have excess rebate amount carried forward instead of being paid as a refund
  • lowering the Saskatchewan Employment Supplement for eligible children from age 18 and under to age 12 and under.

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