Sask. budget breakdown: Here's what the province will spend on health in 2021-22

Record spending is reported in Saskatchewan’s health sector in the 2021-22 Provincial Budget.

The Government of Saskatchewan has allocated $6.54 billion, a $359 million or 5.8 per cent increase from the 2020-21 budget. Health accounts for 38.2 per cent of the government’s total expenses.

The 2021-22 budget for the Ministry of Health is $6.12 billion, an increase of $261 million of 4.5 per cent from the last budget. This increase makes this budget the largest ever allocated to the Ministry of Health, as well as the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

For the second year the province has allocated millions to its COVID-19 response. It cited vaccine rollouts, personal protective equipment (PPE), contact tracing, COVID-19 testing, enhanced lab capacity and support for long-term care as major pandemic-related expenses for the health sector.

MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS

Out of the $6.54 billion allocated to Saskatchewan’s health sector, the Government of Saskatchewan allocated $458 million to mental health and addictions services in the province.

Targeted mental health and addictions services will receive $7.2 million of the total funds offered to mental health and addictions services. This includes “expansion of harm reduction and addictions treatment”, as well as youth-focused treatments and suicide prevention.

The province also allocated $850,000 to an additional 14 “treatment beds” in Estevan.

The province is providing $16.2 million for hospital-based mental health and addictions services, physician visits and prescription drug costs.

THE SASKATCHEWAN HEALTH AUTHORITY

The Government of Saskatchewan is providing Saskatchewan Health Authority with a $3.96 billion grant, up $221.4 million - or 5.9 per cent - from 2020-21.

A total of $6 million will be used to hire around 100 continuing care aides for long-term care clients.

INFRASTRUCTURE ANNOUNCEMENTS

The province has allocated $1.1 million to “begin planning activities for long-term care facilities in Estevan, Watson and Regina.”

The following infrastructure projects have been included in the budget:

  • Grenfell long-term care facility: $3.6 million
  • 80-bed La Ronge long-term care facility: $7.6 million
  • Weyburn Hospital planning: $1.4 million
  • Regina and Saskatoon urgent care: $5.7 million
  • Program and design plans for Prince Albert Victoria Hospital: $5.7 million

MORE HEALTH SPENDING

The province allocated $6.0 million to expand the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) program and provide support to children with Autism and their families.

The Saskatchewan Insulin Pump Program will see a $5 million increase to help expand eligibility to everyone in the province who needs one.

Ambulance fees for seniors will be reduced from $275 to $135 per trip.

Additional ambulances will be provided in Regina and Saskatoon via a $6.6 million boost to Emergency Medical Services. This increase will also cover patient wait time fees.

STARS will receive another air ambulance helicopter with a $1.4 million funding boost. STARS will receive a total of $11.88 million in the 2021-22 budget.

The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency is set to receive an additional $7.6 million, this year the agency will relieve a total of $204 million.

SASK. OPPOSITION RESPONDS TO BUDGET

NDP leader Ryan Meili said the government’s approach to the budget has been similar to its approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"At a time when people are suffering, this budget offers them no hope because it takes the same approach as their pandemic approach, weak, half measures that are ineffective that don’t get the job done for Saskatchewan people."Meili said of the budget.

Meili said he’s also concerned by what he calls the budget's lack of additional jobs to help Saskatchewan people get back to work."What I’m frustrated about and animated about and damn right pissed off about is what’s going on in this province. This is a government that has completely failed Saskatchewan. Scott Moe has failed Saskatchewan when it comes to COVID-19 and as result has damaged our economy, has resulted in people losing their lives that should still be with us today, we should all be angry."