Saskatchewan is back on track.
A vastly improved financial picture has allowed our government to present a budget for 2022-23 that will touch all corners of the province. This budget strengthens and protects Saskatchewan with key investments in health care, social services and assistance, education and protection of persons and property.
Our government will use this budget to tackle the surgical waitlist caused by the pandemic. We will perform an additional 7,000 surgeries this year, compared to last year and increasing each subsequent year. A nearly $11 million increase will support stabilization of emergency medical services, particularly in rural and remote areas. Adding to that work will be $3.5 million for physician recruitment and retention initiatives.
Our 27 school divisions will receive nearly $2.0 billion in operating funding for the 2022-23 school year. The increase fully funds the 2 per cent salary increase as part of the Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement along with hiring an additional 200 full-time educational assistants. Our government has also provided an additional $1.8 million to help cover unexpected staffing costs from the 2021-22 school year.
Access to water has been a major topic, and our government recognizes the challenges this can cause. This budget includes $45 million for water infrastructure rehabilitation, including work on dams and other control structures. Another $25 million will fund small and large-scale irrigation projects that contribute to economic, irrigation and food security.
This budget confirms funding to help make Saskatchewan safer with $947 million for the justice system. We will implement the Electronic Monitoring Global Positioning System for high-risk offenders and establish a Warrant Enforcement and Suppression Team to target high-risk offenders with outstanding warrants. Funding will create a Provincial Protective Services branch that unites provincial peace officers into a single organizational structure, establish the Saskatchewan Trafficking Response Team, expand the Crime Reduction Teams and the Internet Child Exploitation Unit.
Overall, revenue is forecast to reach $17.2 billion, with expenses totalling $17.6 billion. A $2.1 billion improvement over last year, the deficit for 2022-23 is projected to be $463 million. We plan to keep this trend going with smaller deficits in each of the next three years, reaching a balanced budget for the 2026-27 budget cycle.
These are just a few of the exciting announcements to come from this year’s budget. More details regarding individual programs and services will be unveiled in the coming weeks and months. The 2022-23 Budget protects and strengthens our province, ensuring investments made today are sustainable into the future.
Cypress Hills MLA