The province’s forecasted deficit is growing, with the third-quarter report indicating Saskatchewan will be $427 million in the red for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The report released Monday shows the deficit is expected to be $165 million larger than the $262 million deficit forecast at mid-year, largely due to a big hit in oil prices.
“We have seen significant and sustained declines in oil prices impacting our revenue,” Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said in a news release. “While we have forecast a deficit this year and anticipate a more modest deficit next year due to continued low commodity prices and a weak global economy, our four-year forecast projects improvement and a return to surplus in 2017-18.”
Revenue is down $158 million from mid-year and $428 million from budget. Expense, meanwhile, is up $7 million from mid-year and $106 million from budget.
At the time of the mid-year update, Doherty stated he wouldn’t run a deficit, but he maintains this was the better option through the next couple of years compared to raising taxes or making cuts.
“Things didn’t go as I thought they, or hoped they would, with respect to the price of oil, obviously,” he said.
In response, NDP leader Cam Broten is asking “how on earth did they mess it up so badly?”
Speaking to reporters at the legislature, Broten argued the government presided over a boom and inherited a substantial rainy day fund.
“They’ve spent every penny as fast as it came in, they drained the rainy day fund during the sunniest days here in Saskatchewan and they put nothing aside long-term.”
This is the last and only look at the books before Saskatchewan people head to the polls next month.