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Premier Brad Wall says Sask. budget balanced despite falling oil prices
Clare Clancy, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 25, 2015 1:33PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 25, 2015 4:05PM CST
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the government is on track to present a balanced budget in March despite sinking oil prices.
"That's a cornerstone of our growth plan ... it's part of the reason why we've been able to get triple-A credit ratings," he said on Wednesday.
Wall added that it's the most challenging budget his government has ever put together.
The spring sitting of the Saskatchewan legislature begins next week.
Wall said while "everything needs to be on the table" for the upcoming budget, the government is working to avoid tax increases.
"We're looking for savings in every ministry," he said.
Wall said the government will continue to invest in infrastructure.
"There is a stimulus that comes with capital expenditure in infrastructure," he said. "Our plan in the budget will not be to pause, there'll be a reduction perhaps, but not like some would expect."
Wall said low world oil prices translate into a revenue shortfall of between $600 million and $800 million.
Opposition NDP Leader Cam Broten said the government has misplaced priorities.
He said record revenue in the past 10 years doesn't match up with the lack of services in sectors such as education and health care.
"The things that matter to families still aren't being addressed ... instead what we see from this government are bad choices," he said.
He pointed to SaskPower's smart-meter program as an example. The Crown utility was ordered to remove more than 100,000 newer models after several fires related to the equipment raised safety concerns.
"We don't actually know the total tab," Broten said.
Broten added that the New Democrats plan to continue to raise issues related to seniors care, which was a focus for the Opposition in the fall sitting.
"When we look at the track record of where the government has spent its time, where it's spent its money, we see a pattern that is indicative of not being focused on the things that matter most," he said.