House leaders meeting to discuss possibility of returning to legislature, Sask. premier says
REGINA -- Saskatchewan’s premier says house leaders have begun meeting to discuss the possibility of returning to the legislature.
Premier Scott Moe said Monday that house leaders met last week and will speak again this week.
“[They will] meet again this week to discuss how legislative oversight can occur, whether that’s committee or legislative sittings, but how it can occur safely,” he said.
Opposition leader Ryan Meili sent a letter to Premier Scott Moe on Monday to ask to “reconvene the legislature immediately.”
“Saskatchewan people have real questions about health care readiness, support for families and businesses, access to childcare, and unprecedented job losses,” Meili said in a news release. “There are also real concerns about the outbreak in La Loche and the North, and what resources are in place for communities affected by outbreaks. The Sask. Party needs to answer those questions.”
Moe said he plans to respond to Meili’s “very public letter.”
“I was actually quite surprised to see the letter come from the leader of the Opposition today, as this is work that traditionally in this province historically has always been undertaken by the respective house leaders where you have opposition house leader and a government house leader that will work together,” he said. “It’s critical that that work, continue to happen at the house leader level to ensure that whatever we can come to given this time when we're also dealing with dealing with a provincial and a global pandemic that it doesn't distract from that work, and that it's done so safely.”
The legislative assembly was suspended on March 18, the same day Moe declared a state of emergency in Saskatchewan.
The government also tabled a scaled back budget on March 18, listing expenses without revenue projections.
On Monday, Meili said he wants the government to update its timeline for presenting a full budget.
“The premier needs to be willing to answer questions right now, like where and how they’re planning to spend an extra $2.5 billion,” Meili said. “The people of Saskatchewan deserve to know where that money is going, to know it’s going to the right places and the most important projects, not just projects that benefit Sask. Party friends and donors.”
On April 17, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer predicted the pandemic will result in a potential revenue decline of $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion.
Moe said Monday the province is operating under the special warrants put in place when the legislature was put on hold.
“Those are the estimates that our special warrants are based on. The investment we’re making each month is based on the estimates that will be tabled in the house,” he said.
Moe says the province will continue to provide updates on the revenue estimates. A timeline for passing the budget would be left up to the house leaders, the premier said.
Moe added there will be updated revenue projections before Saskatchewan residents head to the polls in October.