One of the sectors of the Saskatchewan budget the public heard about beforehand was the idea of cutting wages in the public sector.
Finance Minister Kevin Doherty says although it would have to go through contract negotiations, the provincial government is asking, and has budgeted for, a 3.5 per cent reduction in public sector compensation.
The PST is being raised by a point to 6 per cent and a number of exemptions are being eliminated, including children’s clothing, restaurant meals, insurance premiums and bulk purchases of gas.
The exemption for used cars will remain, but the value of a trade-in will no longer be deductible in determining the PST when a new vehicle is bought.
Doherty also announced the Saskatchewan Transportation Company will wind down with freight accepted for delivery until May 19th and passenger services will end May 31st.
Along with the users, this will affect 224 staff.
Doherty takes no comfort in people losing their jobs to balance the provincial budget.
“Those are tough decisions, but we have to get to delivering the core services that the people of this province want from the provincial government.” He said
Doherty says no decisions have been made about what will done with the buses and the bus depots.
When it comes to school boards the province won’t be reducing the number of boards after all.
The final report from the Advisory Panel on Education Governance Renewal has been released.
It suggests the government keep elected boards and make no major changes to the school division boundaries.
Minister Doherty says they will accept all recommendations, adding the government heard widespread support for keeping local school boards as is.
The provincial budget is allocating just over 2-billion dollars to education, which is a 6 per cent drop from last year. However, the province says much of that decrease comes from the 262-million dollar investment made last year to build the 18 joint-use schools.
The deficit in the overall budget is forecast to be $685-million at the end of this next fixcal year, and then $304 million for 2018-19, followed by a $15-million surplus in 2019-20.