As is often the case for many spring sessions of the legislature, money and how it’s spent will be the focal point for the next two months.
But this sitting, which gets underway Monday, could very well have a dark shadow cast upon it.
The Wall government is currently wrestling with a growing deficit of well over $1 billion.
“There’s going to be some very difficult decisions that we’re making,” hinted Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison, who highlighted the budget as the sitting’s main focus.
Resource revenues have been down considerably for quite some time, but he said it’s important to make a distinction between revenues and how the overall economy is doing, suggesting there are positive signs which could lighten up an otherwise dark financial period for the province.
Harrison pointed to growth in average weekly earnings, wholesale trade and retail sales as indications a turnaround could be on its way.
“It’s going to be something that continues to be a major focus of our government, that the economy continues to show strength and continues to grow,” he explained.
Growth is something the opposition is familiar with.
Ryan Meili joins the NDP as an MLA after capturing the Saskatoon-Meewasin seat in the March 2 byelection. The seat was formally held by the SaskParty’s Roger Parent until he passed away after battling cancer.
“This is a session where we’re going to be spirited, strong, united and ready to fight for Saskatchewan people,” said NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon. “Our team is ready to go.”
The province said the byelection bill will be passed through all stages Monday afternoon and Meili will then be sworn in, with two members escorting him to his seat.
Wotherspoon said the opposition will continue to challenge the province on the Global Transportation Hub land deal.
“You would think that the premier would finally come clean. This is a premier who has not been honest when it comes to this scandal,” said Wotherspoon.
In addition, he said the NDP will fight against any cuts to classrooms and hospitals while making sure crowns — such as SaskTel —aren’t sold off.
“We have a government that’s breaking promises and being dishonest on front after front after front.”
With some laws set to be passed, other legislation will be introduced, although Harrison is keeping mum as to what exactly some of those bills might look like.
“There’s going to be a number of bills introduced as a consequence of the budget introduction,” he said.
The budget will be introduced March 22.