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Saskatchewan allocates $160 million of pandemic contingency money

The Saskatchewan Government has announced that they will be drawing down from the province’s health and public safety contingency.

This funding will be going towards several items, which Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Donna Harpauer says will cover pandemic related costs, health system requirements, AgriInvest Program payments, and highways construction or winter maintenance.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority will be getting the largest portion of funding, $75.6 million, to relieve COVID-19 pressures. After that, the Small Business Emergency Payment Program is being allocated $20 million and tourism supports $17 million.

The rest of it is being broken up for municipal growth grants, custody and court services, and public safety response, among other items. The first $40 million of the $200 million total funds was previously drawn down to support the Safe School Plan in the first quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year.

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Harpauer notes drawing on this fund, along with other spending this year, made it necessary to issue February special warrants totalling $322.8 million.

Also needed, according to the Government, was special warrants related to six ministries. Health took the largest one, with $75 million to address SHA service pressures, $52.9 million for various costs across the health system like COVID-19 or collective bargaining and $50.3 million for equipment purchases needed to fight COVID-19 as well.

Next was Highways, receiving $96.6 million for contractors getting more work done this construction season, winter maintenance and municipal grants to stimulate economic growth.

Over $35 million went to Corrections, Policing and Public Safety mostly for their cost pressures due to COVID and overtime, among other reasons.

Smaller amounts were also given to Agriculture for the AgriInvest Program, Justice and Attorney General and Advanced Education for Saskatchewan Polytechnic, upgrading the dental lab around COVID-19.

All of these factors will go into the 2021 Saskatchewan Budget, set to be tabled on April 6th of this year.

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