MLAs could return to legislature for budget presentation in mid-June, NDP says
The Saskatchewan Legislative Building is seen in this file image. (CTV News/Gareth Dillistone)
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan NDP says MLAs could be back in the legislature by the middle of next month.
Opposition leader Ryan Meili said the government has proposed June 15 as a date to return to the legislative assembly.
Meili says the government plans to present a budget on that date. This would give the legislature eight days total to discuss the budget, with five question periods.
The opposition wants more time in the house with the potential budget.
“We have returned with a proposal, staying with the same opening day, expanding to 14 days of sitting with 14 question periods,” said Meili.
The province tabled a scaled-back budget with only spending estimates on March 18. The legislative assembly has been suspended since that date.
Finance Minister Donna Harpauer presented a fiscal update in April that predicted $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion in lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Premier Scott Moe said the Ministry of Finance will release more revenue projections in June. He also said the province plans to release a full budget before Saskatchewan residents head to the polls in October.
The province has not confirmed if MLAs will return to the legislature on June 15. On Thursday, Moe confirmed the government and opposition are discussing for a full budget but didn’t go into further detail.
COVID-19 restrictions likely won’t permit all 59 MLAs to be present in the house. The proposal is for 10 government members to be in the house along with five from the opposition.
The NDP also wants to use the two week sitting to legislate an end to the Co-op refinery lockout. Union members are expected to rally in support of a forced resolution to their labour dispute.
“You know we all know Saskatchewan is opening up and there’s going to be a lot of businesses that will be hurting and I think we need the economy firing on all cylinders and that includes you know 730 people in Regina,” said Kevin Bittman, the president of Unifor local 594.
The government has the final say on whether there is a sitting of the legislature. It says it will consider the NDP’s proposal, but will not make the negotiations public.