Sask. prepared to deliver 2nd pandemic budget on Tuesday

Donna Harpauer, Saskatchewan finance minister, speaks during an unusual Budget Day at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday March 18, 2020. Due to the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced yesterday that a full budget would be postponed to a later date. The budget announced today included spending estimates, but not revenue estimates. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

Saskatchewan will deliver the budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year on Tuesday, after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for last year's budget.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer will unveil the government’s spending plans Tuesday afternoon

Earlier, Harpauer projected a possible $1.4 billion deficit for this year’s budget.

The upcoming budget is likely to be another deficit, with revenue falling short of expenditures as a result of COVID-19. The government said it will provide direct funding to fight the pandemic and report record spending on health care.

In March 2020, the province delivered a scaled-back fiscal update, with spending estimates that didn’t include revenue forecasts.

A formal budget was presented later in the year, on June 15.

The province provided an update of its financial report on Aug. 27, where it projected a $2.1 billion deficit for the fiscal year.

SPRING SESSION BEGINS

All 61 MLAs are expected in Regina for the provincial budget. Currently, travel is not advised to or from Regina because of the high number of COVID-19 variant cases.

MLAs will not be permitted to leave Regina until after the travel advisory is lifted.

The premier said precautions will be taken in the house.

“The spring sitting is going to look an awful lot like the fall sitting with members physically-distanced like we were in the fall. About half the MLAs will be in the assembly at any one time,” said Premier Scott Moe.

Opposition NDP is questioning whether it’s a smart thing to do, and NDP leader Ryan Meili has called for a virtual meeting option for MLAs not comfortable with gathering in a large group.

Moe used Zoom last week as part of his COVID-19 briefing. The NDP said it’s used as a safe meeting option all over the world.