The provincial government handed down its budget on March 19 – a document that it says is balanced, free of tax increases and on the path of steady growth.
But there's no mention of a CT scan for St. Joseph's Hospital in the document.
Southeast residents have been pining for a CT scan for years, and those cries have grown since January of 2013, when the local health committee revealed that it had the funding to purchase the necessary equipment for St. Joseph’s, and to operate it for two years. The government would then be responsible for the machine's operational expenses.
But for the second straight year, it wasn't included, which means that the Sun Country Health Region will remain one of three in the province without a CT scan.
But there is good news for local residents in the Ministry of Highways’ budget. The budget calls for pre-construction work on two twinning projects: Highway 39 from Estevan to the junction with Highway 18 near Bienfait; and Highways 39 and 6 from Estevan to Regina.
The government also reaffirmed its commitment to the truck route north of Estevan.
“Our government’s preference will always be to balance the budget by controlling spending rather than by raising taxes,” Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said. “We were able to achieve that once again this year, while still making targeted investments in infrastructure, employment and job training, seniors, students, people with disabilities, children and families.”
This year’s budget also sees the government moving to a summary focus for fiscal reporting, as recommended by the provincial auditor.
“Steady growth is the big picture, a vision for the long term and a full view of what’s happening in Saskatchewan,” Krawetz said.
“So beginning today (March 19), the focus of our budget and our financial statements will be a summary focus, which includes all aspects of government revenue and spending.”
A budget surplus of $71 million is forecasted. It takes into account all government business enterprises, including commercial Crown corporations and government service organizations, such as ministries, boards of education, health regions and more.
Revenues for 2014-15 are projected at $14.07 billion, down seven-tenths of a per cent from last year; while expenses are estimated to be $14.0 billion, down two-tenths of a per cent from last year. Total oil revenues are projected to be $1.6 billion, based on an average price of $94.25 per barrel US.
Next week's edition of Lifestyles will have more on the budget.