“It’s, overall, a really strong budget for the province,” Weyburn-Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan said of the budget delivered by Finance Minister Donna Harpauer yesterday. “We’ve set a theme for this budget – classrooms, care, and communities, and when you look at all three of those areas, I think you really can see why.” 

Duncan, who is also the Minister of the Crown Investments Corporation, and most of the major Crown corporations such as SaskTel, SaskEnergy and SaskPower, noted the increases in spending in education, healthcare, and for communities through the Municipal Revenue Sharing grant program.  

In his ministerial role, Duncan has seen the revenues generated for the province by the Crown corporations decline in recent years, but this year they were up. While they are still below where they were five years ago, he isn’t concerned.  

“Our Crown investments, the businesses under the Crown Investments Corporation umbrella, they’re essentially serving a growing population and so we are seeing about $2.6 billion of investment by our Crown Corporations in improving the infrastructure across the province,” Duncan explained. He noted the new natural gas power plant set to go online in Moose Jaw, and the infrastructure that is being built out for SaskEnergy. 

“We’re pleased to see the bounce back that they’ve been able to have, particularly after the years of COVID, where I think all businesses were affected,” he added 

Locally, investments in the Weyburn area were good to see for Duncan. This included more money for the construction of the new hospital in the city. After receiving $38 million last year, the new hospital project received another $55 million in funding. 

“I know everybody’s looking forward to continuing to watch the construction of the hospital and just pleased that we’re able to invest those dollars in this year’s budget.” 

Other infrastructure projects he noted that were good to see in the Weyburn area included money for the twinning projects along Highways 6 and 39, particularly at the Corinne corner where the two highways merge, along with work on Highway 6 north of Pangman.  

“I know the city (of Weyburn) is working very closely with Highways on the Urban Connector Program and trying to see improvements to 1st Abeune and the 13 Highway, and I would say that all signs look positive that Highways and the City of Weyburn are going to come to an agreement on that,” Duncan continued.  

For the 18-year veteran of the Saskatchewan Legislature, this would also be the last budget he would help prepare. Earlier this year, he announced he would not be seeking re-election. Duncan did say he will miss some of the work that goes into preparing the provincial budget.  

“The internal debate back and forth with colleagues in determining not only the budget but, you know, the budget does help to lay the groundwork and the framework and the direction for the future of the province,” Duncan commented. “They’re always fascinating decisions that are discussed as a part of the budget process.” 

That process can be a long one. Duncan explained the work on preparing the next budget will often start soon after the current one is passed in the Legislature.  

“There’s a very small window after the spring budget where in the Legislature we start debating the specific estimates within the budget but people are starting to turn their attention towards the next year’s budget not long after this budget is actually passed in the assembly.”