Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale says virtually every dimension of the budget, with the exemption of one or two will be relevant in Saskatchewan and very helpful.
The budget includes money for a variety of initiatives from making home buying easier to a national pharmacare plan and more money for skills training, seniors and more.
He says the broad band investment will be particularly relevant in Saskatchewan.
“Our objective is to connect everyone in Canada wherever they may live including rural and remote communities using high speed internet. We already have a number of programs that apply to Saskatchewan and this new money that’s being allocated will make these programs larger and more expansive. So, Sasktel and other service providers can reach more people, more quickly over the course of the next number of years.”
He notes the budget also earmarks $1 million dollars in funding for the Western Economic Diversification to develop a new strategy to pull all of the relevant Federal and Provincial Departments and agencies together to determine what water infrastructure we need to build in Saskatchewan to make us more drought proof and more flood proof.
Goodale says it’s an accelerating issue because of climate change. The province loses hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure, agricultural production and even the oil patch from issues around things like severe storms, flooding, drought and wildfires.
“Can we build the infrastructure both engineered infrastructure like say Gardiner Dam and Diefenbaker Lake and natural infrastructure like wetlands and habitat to better prepare ourselves to deal with these wide, wild variations in water supply, quality and use? Then utilize that water for economic and social developments.”
The Federal Budget 2019 also included a $2.2 billion one-time transfer from the Gas Tax Fund to pay for short-term infrastructure priorities.
He notes it was his budget in 2005 when he was Finance Minister that created the Gas Tax Fund. The transfer goes through provincial authorities but goes directly to municipalities to their infrastructure budget for things like local road and bridge projects in Saskatchewan.
Right now municipalities in the Province would receive about $62 million dollars and this year it’s being doubled to $124 million dollars for their basic infrastructure requirements.
Goodale says he’s also pleased to see a really big capital investment of $65 million dollars in STARS – the helicopter air ambulance rescue service that serves both urban and rural areas across the Prairies.
A key concern for the agriculture sector was the purchase of fuel from card locks. Goodale says the budget makes very clear that those purchases will be exempt and there will be conversations over the next few days with suppliers like Federated Co-op to make sure this is handled in the right way.
“Fuel that is used on farm, gasoline, and diesel that is used on farm in agricultural production is exempt. That is the law and it has to be administered that way.”
The Federal Budget also includes over 3.5 billion dollars in compensation for the supply managed sectors to help overcome the impact of trade agreements like CETA, the CPTPP, and the USMCA Agreements.
There was also funding in the budget for fighting African Swine Fever, infrastructure funding for short-line railways and more.
More information on the Federal budget is available here.