No Big Surprises in Provincial Budget
On June 1, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty announced a 2016-17 provincial budget that features no new taxes, controlled spending, and a $434 million deficit, mainly due to a nearly $1 billion shortfall in resource revenues. Decreases to Urban Parks and capital spending on parks, as well as the elimination of the Active Families Benefit of $5.5 million, were the biggest reductions affecting the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. In his speech, the Minister of Finance noted that other programs, such as KidsSport and Creative Kids, were better options than the Active Families Benefit for supporting low income families. Other than small decreases in some areas, including the Community Initiatives Fund and Support for Provincial Heritage and Culture, the impact of this year's budget on cultural spending is minimal, with organizations such as Saskatchewan Arts Board, Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation, Creative Saskatchewan and the Provincial Archives remaining at status quo levels.
There were also some increases in funding. The Royal Saskatchewan Museum received a small increase of $60,000 in its budget, along with a substantial increase to Community Sport, Culture and Recreation Programs and Community Infrastructure, which may help supplement government's role in upcoming initiatives, such as Canada's 150th Anniversary celebrations or other province-wide initiatives. The Ministry has said it is working on ways to increase access to sport, culture and recreation programming in the province.
It should also be noted that while MLA David Forbes began the session by presenting the petition to reinstate the heritage language funding to Saskatchewan Organization of Heritage Languages (SOHL), there was no further moves by government to re-establish the fund.
Click here for complete budget details or here for the Estimates for individual Ministries.