Opposition leader Ryan Meili called on Premier Scott Moe to delay the budget due to the recent drop in oil prices and the outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe.
“Let's postpone this budget, give time to rework the budget based on the projections of the current economic reality and give us a full time to debate that budget, not plunge into an election the day after it's introduced,” said Meili during a press conference on Tuesday.
Moe and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer both reiterated that shifts in previous budgets made it so natural resources only account for about 4.5 per cent of their budget.
Moe said in a media scrum Tuesday that he will not make “panicky” decisions regarding delaying the budget, which is to be released March 18.
“We're not going to make panicky decisions, knee jerk reactions to what has to date been a couple of days of variable market forces. If those market forces continue to be variable and negative into the next number of weeks and months, the appropriate time for us to realign our budget here in this province would be at the first quarter. The budget that we bring forward next week, we have confidence [in].” said Moe in a media scrum.
Meili said if there is no delay to re-establish confidence in the people of Saskatchewan, the document presented on March 18 will be “fiction, a document that won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.”
On Monday oil hit as low as $30 a barrel in some places. Stocks plummeted so much the Dow Jones and TSX shut down. On top of that, COVID-19 continues to shut down certain parts of the world in fear of continuous spread.
“it's important that we provide a stable environment through this both from a political perspective but also from a financial perspective, so that we can ensure that we have a stable environment so we can make what may be some very serious decisions in the days and weeks ahead,” said Moe.
Meili also spoke to the possibility of the Sask. Party calling an early election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It just makes absolutely no sense to me that we would introduce an election, which is all about increasing social contact, which is all about getting people more in touch with each other in a time when social distancing is actually the wise thing to do from a public health standpoint,” said Meili.
“I think we should be stepping back and saying ‘yeah, let's not rush into a budget, let's not rush into an election, let's step back and make wise choices’ and that doesn't seem to be what Scott Moe has in mind,” he added.
Jordan Stricker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Estevan Mercury