Our industry is cautiously optimistic as we await the unveiling of the 2019–20 provincial budget.
On March 18, we’ll hear from Premier Scott Moe what this government has planned for the next year and gain a better sense what that will mean for our members. Unfortunately, we might need to do more than just cross our fingers for increased spending for the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.
We’ve already been told that the money set aside for the bypass ($89 million last year and $330 million two years ago) will be going towards the maintenance of the project, with any remaining money destined for other ministries.
Obviously, this isn’t welcomed news for anyone in our industry, especially those who are struggling to weather this sluggish economy.
What should we expect in this budget? It’s probable we’ll see a lot of safety announcements because that continues to be the focus and a top priority of the Ministry from last year’s budget announcement and in messaging in the Saskatchewan Growth Plan.
To refresh everyone’s memory, the total budget for the 2018–19 season was $706.1 million. Last year’s budget saw $64 million set aside for passing lanes near Canora and Melville and in the Moose Jaw and Chamberlain areas. Also included in the 2018–19 budget was $65 million to be spent over the next five years for highway intersection safety and warning lights at major intersections.
It’s true, we haven’t seen an increase in spending in our sector for a couple of years. However, things could be worse. Our neighbouring provinces – Alberta and Manitoba –have slashed budgets in recent years and our colleagues there have suffered because of it.
For nearly the past decade, our provincial government has maintained its commitment to the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure by investing in important trade infrastructure.
Growing the economy needs to be the first priority at each level of government and a strong and healthy economy starts with our industry. We’re hopeful our government continues to share that vision.