The Ministry of Social Services received $1.5 billion in the provincial budget that was delivered on Wednesday. This was a bump up of $112.4 million from the 2023-24 budget, and in the words of Minister Gene Makowsky, had several targeted investments for vulnerable clients.  

The budget included $17 million for the first full year of the Saskatchewan Employment Incentive Program. The program, which was introduced in the throne speech, is said to help make life more affordable for working families with lower incomes.  

“A lot of times, there are challenges with going to work – things like childcare, transportation, clothing, whatever it may be,” Makowsky told Discover Weyburn. “This program will hopefully help individuals to stay employed, but also be able to move off income assistance.” 

The program is intended to replace some older programs that were available through the Ministry of Social Services, and Makowsky is hoping more families look into their eligibility for the program. 

“I encourage people to look into it, see if they can apply and be able to get that help, but also to be able to stay on supplementary health, which is such an important aspect of this program as well,” Makowsky continued.  

Funding for programs that help those with disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities, was also announced. While it may not directly translate into more staff with the Ministry of Social Services, it will help with various programs that are offered throughout the province. The budget has a three percent increase for the community-based organizations that work with the ministry, and they will be able to use the funding as they need to within their organization.  

“Also, we’ve provided an increase to individuals who may be on the SAID program – assured income for disability program – that this government brought forward,” Makowsky noted. “This is the second year in a row where those individuals on that program will see another increase.” 

The Saskatchewan Housing Corporation will also be receiving a boost in funding. There was $83 million dedicated for the repair and maintenance of homes in the SHC throughout the province, but Makowsky said the areas most in need right now are in the major centres such as Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert as well as the north.  

“They were built in the 70s and 80s, and may not be reflective of where the need is. The need has changed over the years in Saskatchewan so we’re working hard to ensure that we have good, available units where needed.” 

When asked about affordability measures in terms of rent controls, Makowsky said there won’t be anything along those lines coming forward, but there are programs available through the ministry such as the Saskatchewan Housing Benefit which helps low-income individuals.  

Homelessness was also targeted in the budget, with $30 million committed. Most of that money, however, will go outside of the Southeast. Makowsky explained they have community partners in communities like Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw, but at this time, they don’t have any shelters or programming in the Weyburn area.  

“We’d look for any partners that come forward with saying there’s a need in those particular communities,” Makowsky answered when asked if there were plans for a shelter of any sort in Weyburn or Estevan. “I don’t believe that has occurred at this time, so if a municipality or a community-based organization came forward that was interested because of whatever need they see in those communities, we would look at it.