We all know how this government loves to pat itself on the back for spending record amounts, even when it comes to failed projects like smart meters or misplaced priorities such as an unprecedented amount being spent on consultants, but the truth is, Saskatchewan is being pushed further into debt, and nothing has been set aside for the future.
In this year’s budget, the Sask. Party government plans to spend more than $14 billion and borrow $700 million. In the process, is increasing debt by another $1.5 billion. As it stands, Saskatchewan is sitting on $13.2 billion in debt, and that doesn’t even include pension debt.
After nearly a decade of record revenues, driven by the resource sector, you would think that the government would pay down a bit of debt. Unfortunately, we are seeing just the opposite from the Sask. Party.
Saskatchewan’s debt has increased every single year. Between the 2009-2010 fiscal year and the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Sask. Party increased the debt every year as follows: $8.8 billion, then $9.1 billion in 2010-11, then $9.5 billion, $9.6 billion, $10.45 billion, $11.8 billion, and, finally, for 2015-2016: $13.2 billion. That rate of increase is absolutely unacceptable.
As for savings – this government hasn’t saved a dime. In fact, it keeps tapping into the growth and financial security fund, more commonly known as the rainy day fund. This government is withdrawing another $255 million from the fund this year. In 2009-10, there was $1.35 billion in that fund, but the government has spent $1.15 billion of that, draining it further year after year.
At the rate this government is spending, not only will we not have anything left in the rainy day fund, but we won’t have much to show for it besides more Lean consultants, Japanese senseis and a stack of debt.
We have seen the premier and finance minister refuse and fail to start a heritage fund - a savings fund that would make Saskatchewan’s economy more stable, and more prosperous for the long-term.
For nearly a decade, this government has enjoyed economic prosperity. We can and should have the best schools, excellent hospitals and better roads than ever before. But, sadly, what we are seeing is lousy spending decisions focused on misplaces priorities, which is leaving us all with overcrowded classrooms in schools that are being propped up by two-by-fours, crumbling hospitals, and roads that often aren’t safe for families, workers or emergency vehicles.
This government needs to start taking the debt and savings issues seriously, and start spending on things that really matter to people.
Trent Wotherspoon, MLA
NDP Deputy Leader
(Editor's Note: we apologize for mispelling Trent Wotherspoon's name in the printed version of this story)