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“No surprises” in Saskatchewan provincial budget estimates: Mayor Aalbers

While the Saskatchewan government has shelved their full budget release due to financial implications from the COVID-19 pandemic, they have released a spending plan that will act as a guide. 

The province plans to spend $14 billion this fiscal year with increases to healthcare and education. Mayor Gerald Aalbers says there are no major surprises for the City of Lloydminster after looking at the estimates.

The government is increasing funding for healthcare by $211 million bringing the health budget to $5.77 billion. Aalbers says the spending is needed as the province grapples with the ongoing pandemic, however there won’t be any significant improvements headed to Lloydminster. 

“There are some new funding announcements in the budget throughout Saskatchewan. We did not see any directly in Lloydminster so we’ll continue to work away at that as a community and as a city to inform Regina of our needs as a community.”

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About $434 million of that funding will go towards mental health and addictions supports and services which is an increase of over $12 million from last year. While the budget estimates did not specify where all of the funding is going towards, some will be spent on a specialized meth inpatient treatment service in Estevan.

A new growth tax incentive for the oil and gas industry was also introduced as part of the plan. The Oil Infrastructure Investment Program will support new and expanded pipelines as well as new pipeline terminals in the province. Aalbers says the government is setting a tone for investment with the program.

“It is a provincially regulated area of our economy that affects our city greatly. The industry is looking for some direction for private investment based on regulations and I think the government is sending a clear and strong message that they want the oil and gas industry to be a player in Saskatchewan.”

The government is hoping a PST rebate for new homes will help create more jobs in the construction industry. The rebate will give a partial tax break of up to 42 per cent of PST paid on a new house contract up to $350,000, excluding land. Aalbers believes it will help level the playing field for residents choosing which side of the border they want to build a new home.

“We did have good growth on the Saskatchewan side in comparison and I would say it was equal for a time in the city. It has slowed down, as it has on both sides, but I think this will help make individuals’ decisions easier if they are looking at moving into a new home.”

The province will be providing $278 million in municipal revenue sharing which is an increase of nearly $27 million from last year.

“The province shares 0.75 of one per cent of the PST with municipalities in Saskatchewan based on the economy from two years ago.”

Aalbers says it will add about $100,000 to the city’s bottom line.

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