Saskatchewan’s finance minister is not critical of a projected $20 billion deficit for the federal Liberal government this year.
Finance Minister Kevin Doherty says the announcement by his federal counterpart is just a sign of the tough economic times across Canada.
“I’m focused on Saskatchewan right now. It is what it is at the federal level and we’ll leave that up to the federal finance minister to deal with,” he said.
He said he won’t criticize the federal finance department for living up to election campaign promises on spending.
In fact, he says Saskatchewan will take whatever it can get from the promise of more infrastructure money.
Doherty says both the federal finance minister and the prime minister have indicated there will be more money flowing to Alberta and Saskatchewan to help the struggling oil sector.
“There are federal dollars coming to the province of Saskatchewan for projects under the old Building Canada fund, and perhaps some new dollars for some infrastructure projects here. So we’re anxiously anticipating what that could look like on March 22,” Doherty said.
While Saskatchewan has not asked for a federal ‘bail out’, Doherty referenced the proposal for an accelerated oil well clean-up program as a specific request to help put people back to work in the oil patch.
Doherty also pointed out the premier has been very clear with the government that there is another way to help the oil patch through tough times.
“One of the major things they can do to help oil producing provinces is build a pipeline,” Doherty said, echoing the premier’s message. “Build Energy East, get on with the process, and that’s not going to cost the federal government one dime.”
Doherty is set to release a third quarter fiscal update next week along with a four-year projection for the economic outlook of the province. He says the federal projection of oil prices at $40 per barrel is in the same ballpark as the provincial numbers.