Brad Wall promises to only spend $105.4 million to return Saskatchewan to balanced budgets by 2018

SASKATOON — There are just six new spending promises, totalling $105.4 million, in the Saskatchewan Party’s election platform, and Premier says that’s by design.

Wall said the platform is based on seeing the province return to balanced budgets by 2017-18.

“Most importantly, the Saskatchewan Party plan will keep our economy strong,” Wall said in a news release Saturday.

Saskatchewan is running a $427-million deficit this fiscal year and will have a deficit next year too.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael BellTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael BellBrad Wall, right, shares a laugh with supporter Ross Huckle, left, during the Saskatchewan Party's election campaign kick-off in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Tuesday March 8, 2016.

One of the six new commitments is to allow seniors with household incomes under $70,000 to defer the education part of their property taxes, starting next year. It’s estimated that will cost $3.5 million a year.

“Most seniors want to remain in their own home as long as possible and this is one step we can take to help them do that,” Wall said.

Wall said if the Saskatchewan Party is re-elected April 4, it will rebuild the province’s rainy day fund. He said when oil prices go back above US$75 a barrel, the party will pour the revenue into the Growth and Financial Security Fund until it reaches $500 million.

NDP Leader has repeatedly criticized the government for draining the savings fund during what Broten called “the sunniest days” in the province.

The costliest promise, which Wall announced last week, was a boost of $70 million over three years to repair highways.


Most of the other commitments were announced in the first two weeks of the campaign.

They include funding for pre-school children with autism, a plan to help graduates with a down payment on a home, extending leave to 26 weeks from eight for people caring for family members near the end of their lives, and a new tax credit for volunteer firefighters and first responders.

Wall also said patients would be allowed to pay privately for CT scans as long as a second scan was done for a patient on the public wait list. The province already uses the “two-for-one” approach for MRIs.

The 31-page platform is largely a recap of the Saskatchewan Party’s record in office since 2007.

The party is campaigning on a decision announced last fall to sell 40 of its 75 government-owned liquor stores and add 12 new private stores.

It said the move would be revenue neutral because the province will still be the liquor wholesaler to all stores.

The Saskatchewan Party platform release comes after the NDP unveiled its plan Thursday.

The New Democrats also said they would give seniors the option of deferring their property taxes. The single-biggest cost in the NDP platform is $106 million over four years for health-care workers, including 400 workers for care homes.

Both parties say their platforms have been fully costed.

About Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press