Opinion: communication is key to a healthy and balanced budget

There is still lots of work to be done of areas of community supports, and not enough money in the pot.

WEYBURN – There were both positive and negative reactions after the provincial budget was announced on March 20. The 2024-25 budget included investments to “classrooms, care and communities”, with large increases in school operating funding, health care funding, and municipal revenue sharing for Saskatchewan communities.

The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) recognized major efforts made in the provincial budget. Both organizations were glad to see the continuance of Municipal Revenue Sharing, which will result in funding for municipal operations.

There was also record investment in agriculture, which is the backbone of rural Saskatchewan. This should be a bit of a relief for farmers and producers, as many in our area are concerned about another dry year for crops.

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce also applauded the policies that were adopted in the 2024-2025 budget, that aligned with the priorities of businesses across the province. There were also expanded incentives for critical minerals, energy, innovation and technology that will help leverage Saskatchewan’s natural advantages.

When the opposition NDP party responded to the budget, of course they raised the issues of there not being enough done to address the issues of Saskatchewan people. There were questions on why the SaskParty was not providing affordability relief or cutting the gas tax. There was also a lot of concern with the rising provincial debt.

The Sask. United party, who are getting their name out more and more in advance of the fall provincial election, noted a concerning lack of fiscal responsibility and prudent management of the province’s finances.

Our province has seen an increase in population, and with that growth there is pressure on the infrastructure and programs in many communities.

Communities are asking for more funding to improve their roads, to help recruit and retain education and health care workers, and to maintain key facilities and infrastructure. Mental health and addictions continue to be a key priority too, as many residents across the province are experiencing insecurity in their lives. There is still lots of work to be done of areas of community supports, and not enough money in the pot.

I don’t know about the rest of you – but I know I am struggling to balance my own personal finances and avoid debt because of the increased inflation of food and gas prices. I can not imagine how any party would be able to offer everything that the province needs and that communities are asking for without avoiding adding to the provincial debt.

It is very concerning to watch the Question Period, and watch our elected MLAs yell at each other. There is little effort to compromise, or reach a diplomatic solution, and often there is more of a school-yard ‘I am right, you are wrong’ mentality.

I know the upcoming fall provincial election is in the minds of the SaskParty, NDP, and others who will come to the voting polls. I urge you to take the time to reflect on the best way to support communities in the future, as it seems impossible to make everyone happy.

We need cooperation and patience from our provincial leaders right now, to help us get through the continued tough times. We need ideas of how to increase our provincial resources, so there is more money in the pot for the growing needs of our communities.