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Home News ‘Back on track’: MLAs Hargrave and Ross confident provincial budget will deliver for Prince Albert

‘Back on track’: MLAs Hargrave and Ross confident provincial budget will deliver for Prince Albert

‘Back on track’: MLAs Hargrave and Ross confident provincial budget will deliver for Prince Albert
The Saskatchewan Legislature. -- Herald File Photo

Back on track.

Those were the words Prince Albert Saskatchewan Party MLAs Joe Hargrave and Alana Ross used to describe the 2022-23 provincial budget released on Wednesday.

Both Prince Albert MLAs touted the budget for strengthening the province after two difficult years, and dismissed NDP concerns that the budget didn’t do enough for the province’s most vulnerable.

“We’ve had a tough two years with COVID,” Ross said during a phone interview. “(This budget) is getting our economy on track. Our finances are on track. Our government services to be able to support people are back on track. We’ve had some good announcements.”

“It’s going to help everything get back to where we need to be in supporting people, in growing our economy, and building that Saskatchewan that we want,” Hargrave added.

“Considering where we were last year and the year before, this is a pretty exciting budget. I would love for it to go way further than it is, but there are only so many resources, and this shows that we’re back on track.”

Hargrave touted the Saskatchewan Party’s plan to reduce the provincial deficit by $2.1 billion as a sign conditions were improving. A big part of that comes from resource revenue, with the province anticipating $867.5 million in oil and natural gas royalties, and another $1.5 billion from potash.

Hargrave said those figures are based on conservative estimates, so he’s confident they’ll hit their revenue projections.

“Oil is currently $100 a barrel. Those aren’t the projections (finance minister Donna Harpauer) is using. It’s in the $70 to $75 range,” Hargrave said. “It would have been unwise of us to base it on $100 barrels of oil.”

The province also plans to expand the PST to including entertainment events like concerts and Roughrider games. The announcement was met with strong condemnation from the NDP for the timing, but both Hargrave and Ross said it won’t be implemented until fall, which gives everyone time to prepare. They also said the expanded tax wouldn’t apply to certain events that focus on family or children’s entertainment.

Hargrave also touted the anti-crime measures in the budget, including plans to create a new team to specifically target people with outstanding warrants. The Prince Albert Carlton MLA said the province can’t just throw money at its crime problems and expect them to evaporate. The problem requires a specific approach, and he’s confident focusing on those with outstanding warrants will help deliver.

“A lot of the bad people, the drug pushers, they’ve got outstanding warrants,” Hargrave said. “It’s not just a matter of saying, ‘he’s another gazillion dollars, this should solve crime.’ It doesn’t work that way. It’s about people, and the effectiveness of our police and our corrections people. That’s what will make the difference. A lot of this new money that we’re spending on police and corrections goes in that direction.”

Ross, the MLA for Prince Albert Northcote, said the budget goes a long way to getting the economy back on track, and that’s what’s needed to support vulnerable Saskatchewan residents.

She touted new spending plans for the NICU unit at Victoria Hospital, and record investment in mental health and addictions as signs the province wasn’t forgetting the most vulnerable. However, she emphasized that those projects are funded by a strong economy.

“It order to support people, we have to grow the economy,” she said.

“This budget is going to allow us to continue to support people.”

Ross also touted plans to continue twinning Hwy 3 west of Prince Albert. She said it’s a much-needed project if Prince Albert hopes to keep expanding.

“That’s such a safety feature. It’s going to be so good for the area, and keep that traffic flow going and safe,” Ross said. “With all the initiatives we have coming to PA, we need to be able to manage that extra volume of traffic.”

For more budget reaction, see the Tuesday, March 29 edition of the Daily Herald.