Province invests big for healthcare and education

The province released their full budget on Monday which includes large investments for education and healthcare.

The budget showed an investment of $749 million towards advanced education, $2.6 billion for the Ministry of Education and $5.8 billion for healthcare.

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The provincial healthcare budget for 2020-21 of $5.8 billion is an increase of $255 million from 2019-20. Health has committed $118 million specifically related to the COVID-19 response on hospital and testing equipment, along with personal protective equipment and operating costs.

“Today’s budget also contains a $200 million health and safety contingency that is available, if necessary, to address any COVID-related costs that can’t be covered within the existing health budget,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said.

An additional $43.7 million will be provided to the health sector to stimulate Saskatchewan’s economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Health is also investing $435 million for mental health and addictions supports and services, the highest budget in history.  This funding includes the establishment of a previously specialized crystal methamphetamine inpatient treatment centre in Estevan and increased access to mental health and addictions services throughout the province.

The budget will also include $20 million to reduce surgical wait times.

Additionally, existing funding of $2.5 million will be directed toward final site selection, land purchase and other planning activities for the Weyburn General Hospital replacement project.

The province said they will also provide a further investment of $15.7 million in capital funding in addition to last year’s capital commitment for the construction of a new 72-bed long-term care facility in Meadow Lake.

Saskatchewan is providing “record funding” for the education sector with a budget of $2.6 billion, an increase of $123.3 million.

According to the provincial budget, Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions will receive $1.94 billion in school operating funding for the 2020-21 school year, an increase of $42.1 million over last year’s $1.9 billion budget.  The increase will provides school divisions with funding for enrolment growth and inflation.  An increase related to the teachers’ new collective bargaining agreement is included.

The budget provides capital funding to build seven new schools and renovate three existing schools.

Included is $8.5 million to begin planning and design on a new school to consolidate the elementary and high school in Carrot River, renovations to Yorkton Regional High School, renovations and addition to John Paul II Collegiate in North Battleford along with replacement, renovations and construction to schools in Regina and Saskatoon.

Also included is $46.9 million to provide ongoing funding for four major school consolidation projects underway in Rosthern, Weyburn, Moose Jaw and Regina.

The province will also provide $62.9 million for preventative maintenance, renewal and emergency funding.

Of the $749 million investment, $34 million is for student supports which includes $27 million to the student loan program which will provide approximately $90 million in repayable and non-repayable financial assistance to more than 19,000 students.

Additionally, $694 million in operating and capital funding will go to post-secondary institutions. Included in the investment is $33 million for capital projects and maintenance and $31 million to Saskatchewan regional colleges.

Additionally, $158 million will go to Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Gabriel Dumont Institute. Also, $472 million in funding will be provided to the University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina and the federated and affiliated colleges.

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