Last week the provincial government released a summary of the most recent sitting of Legislature.
The government shared that as the Spring sitting of the Legislature concluded, Premier Scott Moe highlighted how Saskatchewan is getting Back on Track with key investments and economic growth fueled by fostering strong trade relationships and an expanding energy and resource sector.
"Saskatchewan's economy and finances are back on track to help grow our province and provide jobs right here at home," Moe said. "With that growth comes significant opportunity to invest in services that residents expect and need like surgeries and schools."
The most recent budget was tabled over the last sitting, a main topic of conversation for Kindersley MLA Ken Francis over the past few months.
"I'm a Treasury board member, so budget is one of the biggest parts of my responsibilities," said Francis in a recent interview with West Central Online, "We presented a budget here early in session and we're really working hard to try to get back to balance.
Francis spoke about the deficit position they face, in large part thanks to COVID and rumblings around the world economy. Things are starting to look up, though he also tabled how the drought last year presented a multi-billion dollar hit to the crop insurance program, putting the government in a tough position as that total is apart of their expense stream.
Still Francis' sentiment echoed the provincial release as commodity prices continue to rebound. Potash, uranium, and oil and gas prices are starting to look a lot friendlier, putting the province in a lot better position financially than many in the house thought they were going to be a year ago
"This present budget was just shy of a $500 million deficit, I think $463 million was the number, you know largely due to potash sales and oil and gas prices improving."
The topic of factors the government cannot control came up next, as Francis talked about the strong start to the farming season when it comes to rebounding from last year's drought.
"Now that we got some rain in the area, and some areas of the province there is lots of rain, so we are very hopeful we aren't going to see a repeat of last year on a wide scale," he said, "We don't control that obviously, but we got a lot better start looking towards this year than we did last year," he said from an economic point of view.
From there he changed directions and took his stab at talking about the most recent hike made to the Federal carbon tax, and he was aghast at how the extra jump at the pumps among other things could be still be implemented by Ottawa during these times of financial insecurity for many Canadians.
"There's absolutely no reason that the carbon tax shouldn't be paused. It just doesn't make any sense to keep that tax on when affordability is an issue."
Not only did he share the argument of how a carbon tax affects the prices of almost everything up the supply chain, but also how it is just not feasible for the people in our province in general terms. The vast majority of people use a tremendous amount of fuel in their day to day lives, not because they want to, but because they need too.
"It's to de-incentivize the use of fuel. That's why it hits us unfairly, because we have to move about so much to conduct our day to day activities, when people in the major cities down east just don't have that same issue. That's why we think it's unfair to put this tax across the nation, when it's treating some jurisdictions more unfairly than others."
Francis sees prices at gas stations being affected by many different factors already, and can't see why the extra hedge is still being taken at the pump when the extra deterrent already driving prices higher are already being seen daily across the country.
"It's just a punitive tax to get people to stop using oil and gas products."
Finishing on the topic of extra factors relating to the gouge in prices, the Spring Session also highlighted the province's commitment to the people of Ukraine. On March 7, a motion was passed, with the support of the opposition, to support Ukraine and condemn Russia in the legislative assembly. As well, Premier Moe and MLA Terry Dennis both travelled to Germany to meet with Ukrainian refugees and offer support and assistance for anyone who may be looking to immigrate to Canada, and it is estimated over 100 families have been supported with settlement services to date in Saskatchewan.