With oil prices continuing a downward spiral, the Saskatchewan government is imposing a freeze on spending and hiring.

At just $56.47 a barrel, the price of crude has plunged 40 per cent from a year ago, and far below what industry experts had been predicting back in the spring.

Saskatchewan still has other sources of revenue, but Premier Brad Wall warned Wednesday that the government is about to start cutting.

“We need to stop any unnecessary travel. We need to stop any discretionary hiring, freeze the hiring. We need to freeze third-party work that is not essential to the course of government,” Wall said.

“We need to go into the next few months making sure we have appropriate restraint, that we’re not spending money in discretionary areas.”

While ministries look to trim expenses, the government has tough decisions ahead on what to keep and what can wait. Wall says priority will be given to construction projects, to keep pace with the province’s growth.

Saskatchewan’s Opposition NDP says the government is simply showing poor money management skills. NDP Leader Cam Broten says the province should have seen this oil slump coming, and put more money aside years ago.

“We have to look at the revenue that this government has had available to it over the past years because of natural resources doing well,” Broten said.

“The budget has increased dramatically, but this government has failed to get the job done.”

Based on a report by CTV Regina’s Dale Hunter