Saskatchewan taxpayers could be saddled with a significantly bigger deficit in five years than the major parties in the election are projecting, according to the Progressive Conservative Party.
Currently, Saskatchewan is on track to have a $427 million dollar structural deficit at the end of this fiscal year, along with a $700 million dollar infrastructure deficit, which comes to $1.13 billion.
“The premier’s projections and what the leader of the opposition’s projections for Saskatchewan’s next four years are wrong, and they’re critically wrong, because it takes us further down the deficit road,” said Rick Swenson, leader of the PC party.
The Sask. Party has said they will be able to balance the budget in two years, but the PC Party claims that’s not possible.
“There can be no balancing of the budget based on the information the government is putting forward,” said Grant Schmidt, president of the PC Party.
Schmidt said the P3 projects for schools, hospitals, and the Regina bypass will add up over the next four years, to raise the deficit by $7.6 billion dollars.
Using government documents, including the Value for Money report on the bypass, Schmidt explained there are lease payments for the next 30 years on the projects, along with two lump-sum payments for the bypass in 2017 and 2019 to the tune of $103 million, and $507 million respectively.
He added to that, similar circumstances surrounding future P3s would come to a total $7.6 billion dollar deficit in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Schmidt claims that with what’s happening now, the budget can’t be balanced.
“Unless you’re going to have more taxes and more cuts, and even that isn’t going to balance it. This province is in big fiscal trouble.”
The Sask. Party defended itself against the accusations, saying the PC party’s math is dead wrong.
In an email, the Sask. Party’s spokesperson Kathy Young said the provincial auditor gave the most recent financial statements a clean audit, which includes the beginning of the P3 assets.
“And we’ll trust the provincial auditor and the provincial comptroller’s opinion on these matters rather than Mr. Swenson.”
The email also stated the Sask. Party is accounting for the P3s accurately and uses practices consistent with the Public Sector Accounting standards.
Young mentioned that the ongoing maintenance costs are an expense in the year they’re incurred, and will be recorded every year throughout the contract.
The document below shows sections of the Value for Money Report provided by the PC party, with emphasis added by the PC party. They include a table laying out the PC Party’s math, titled “Wall’s 5 year Debt Plan = $7.6b possible extra”.