Scott Moe made his first big public speech since becoming premier.
He spoke to the delegates attending the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention in Regina on Monday.
Moe opened with a joke telling the crowd, “at least you have a premier with some charisma and personality now.”
While his message to SUMA wasn’t dissimilar to his campaign over the last few months, Moe did provide some new information.
He announced the provincial budget will be slightly later than usual on Wednesday, April 10, and the new premier warned that it would “be tight.”
But he told the delegates — that represent up to 400 Saskatchewan communities — he wants an open dialogue with them on the current revenue-sharing formula which could be changed in time for the 2019 budget.
“We need to have a discussion on what it will look like into the future so municipalities can have the stable, predictable funding that they desire,” Moe told reporters afterward.
Currently, municipalities receive one per cent of the PST revenues, but that money has been reduced in recent years during the downturn in the economy.
SUMA president Gord Barnhart is happy to hear there could be a change. He wants a share of the money generated from the recent PST expansion.
“I am happy to hear they want to consult with us not just an hour before the announcement once the decision has been made, but weeks in advance so that perhaps we can have some influence,” Barnhart said.
While the formula change won’t likely happen in time for the April budget changes could be seen as early as next year.
What could be reviewed is the grants-in-lieu program that the Wall administration walked back. In the 2017-18 budget the grants-in-lieu program was ended, which saw Regina for example out some $11 million.
Discussions for that issue will take place prior to the April budget.
“What I want is fairness, equitability and sustainability, it has to be fair and that is important, the removal of grants-in-lieu was not fair,” Regina Mayor Michael Fougere argued. “If the premier wants to talk about this and have a collaboration I take that as good news.”
Moe also told the delegates there was yet to be any decision on the age limit for cannabis use and that he would consult with his colleagues before reaching a conclusion.
Moe along with cabinet ministers will return to SUMA to take questions from delegates on Wednesday.
—With files from 980 CJME’s Jessie Anton