Provincial Budget 2017-18 - Tough Day for Saskatchewan
As expected the 2017-18 Provincial Budget did not bring much good news, but based on other sectors, the impact to culture could have been much worse. Reductions were made throughout the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport's budget; however, as stated by the government, "key programs and services remain strong and viable". While funding for Wanuskewin, Western Development Museum and the Saskatchewan Science Centre remained status quo, both Saskatchewan Arts Board ($6.6 million) and Creative Saskatchewan ($7.3 million) were reduced by 5%. In addition, the Culture on the Go grant of $800,000 was eliminated.
The Community Initiatives Fund was decreased by 3.6% to $8.89 million, Community Sport, Culture and Recreation Programs was decreased by 51%, and Parks saw increases and decreases, mainly decreases to Regional Parks and Meewasin Valley Authority, which resulted in an 11% reduction.
The Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation was reduced to $300,000 (from $504,000), and will become solely a grant program run through the Ministry. And, the Main Street Program, run previously through SaskCulture, and the Commercial Rink Sustainability Program, important to the recreation community, were both suspended.
Besides the cuts made to STC and an one per cent increase in provincial sales tax, there were other areas of this budget that will have an impact. SaskCulture is also concerned about cuts made to Saskatchewan libraries, which are funded through the Ministry of Education. The seven regional library systems will be decreased by $3.5 million to $2.5 million in 2017-18; and the municipal library funding for Regina and Saskatoon Public Libraries, of $1.3 million, will be eliminated. Libraries have a crucial role in helping to deliver cultural programming to Saskatchewan people, and these cuts may cause reductions in these types of services.
SaskCulture will be meeting with the Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport later in April and will have an opportunity to better discuss the implications of these funding decisions, and what we can look forward to in the future.