The provincial budget was released this afternoon, and there will definitely be some impacts for southeast Saskatchewan included in it this year.
One of the key items that highlighted the $3.7 billion in capital investment was an announced $38 million for the construction of the new hospital in Weyburn. The hospital, which was originally set to have construction start in 2021, is expected to be built starting this year, with it opening in 2025.
The budget also includes $1.3 million for the re-opening of the Court of King’s Bench in Weyburn, complete with fully operational registry offices that are open to the public. There is no timeline for when that will be happening, however.
Overall, the provincial budget saw revenues up by 14.7 percent from 2022-23, and expenses up by 5.9 percent, making a surplus of $1 billion. The revenues include $9.6 billion in taxation, $3.3 billion from non-renewable resources such as oil, gas and potash and $3.6 billion from the federal government.
The expenses include $7.1 billion for healthcare, $4 billion for education and $1.4 billion for agriculture.
The increase to the education budget could potentially see some criticisms from school divisions, as the operational funding for the 27 school divisions, including South East Cornerstone Public School Division and Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division, is up by 2.5 percent, or $49.4 million dollars. While the increase brings the total amount for the school divisions up to $2 billion for operating funding, the increase is still far below the 6.6 percent rate of inflation the school divisions are facing when they go to draw up their budgets.
There were some capital expenditures for education in the southeast announced, with the planning of a new school for kindergarten to Grade 12 to be planned for Carlyle. In all, there is $4.4 million set aside for the planning of five new school capital projects in the province.
The budget does include $442.9 million in infrastructure upgrades for highways throughout the province. One of the significant projects that will be done is the start of construction for the twinning of Highways 6 and 39 in some areas. The work is expected to start near Rowatt and Corinne this year.
City officials in Weyburn were excited to learn of the increase in funding for municipalities announced earlier this month by Premier Scott Moe. How much of the $297.9 million for revenue sharing, though, that will be coming to Weyburn has not been specified as of yet.
We will provide updates on the reactions from those around Weyburn, and details on projects announced for the southeast, in the coming days.