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February 17, 2014

Saskatchewan says federal budget lacking details

The Saskatchewan government didn't see what it wanted in the federal budget.

Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said that the province was hoping for more details on Ottawa’s infrastructure program, known as the Building Canada Fund.

“We’ve said all along that it’s a partnership and that we need the federal government to be involved in some of our major projects, so in that sense when we look at the announcement last year and the bullets that were announced today, it seems to be a repeat of last year,” Krawetz said after the federal budget was delivered.

“There’s no further clarity.”

Krawetz estimates Saskatchewan’s share of the fund would be about $15 million this year.

A “tiny” amount, he concedes.

But, he wanted details because Saskatchewan plans to match the federal government money to build bridges, roads or water systems across the province.

Mayors and councillors told the government at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association convention last week that infrastructure demands are high and costly.

Premier Brad Wall told delegates at the convention that the province is waiting to see what might come from the Building Canada Fund.

“That’s why I wanted further, definitive information today. We didn’t get it,” said Krawetz.

Saskatchewan is also disappointed that Ottawa will enforce the contentious Canada Job Grant program, with or without co-operation from the provinces.

The job grant program aims to provide $15,000 per eligible worker, divided equally among Ottawa, the provinces and employers. However, Saskatchewan has said it doesn’t address things like basic training needs for aboriginal people.

Krawetz said the budget puts “an ultimatum’’ on the table and that’s a concern for provinces that have made a counter-proposal to federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

“I think that there was hope today that we would have seen a response from Minister Kenney regarding the counter-proposal,” said Krawetz.

“There hasn’t been, so that’s going to be of significant concern because I think we have had an analysis of what was announced last year and it’s not good enough.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2014

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