Saskatchewan Consulting Engineering Industry Responds to 2019 Provincial Budget

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Saskatchewan (ACEC-SK) has watched with interest the varying reactions to the 2019-2020 Saskatchewan Budget. The budget focus of our industry is the guidance the budget provides about provincial capital budgets, both now and in the future.

The 2019-2020 Saskatchewan Budget outlines $1.6 billion of capital investment in the commercial Crown sector and $1.1 billion in capital investment activities of Executive Government ministries and agencies, for a combined capital investment of $2.7 billion.  It introduces a combination of new infrastructure projects together with maintenance programs, which our industry would suggest is the Right Infrastructure Balance.

In recent years, we congratulated the government when they continued to prioritize infrastructure as an important investment in Saskatchewan’s future, which supports economic growth and the quality of life Saskatchewan citizens have grown to expect.  When the province could not afford to invest in numerous new capital projects on its journey to balance, it instead wisely chose to prioritize investment in the maintenance of current capital assets which extended their useful life.  The last years have not been easy as our provincial government has asked every sector of society to step up and bear the burden of returning to balance.

In this year’s budget, in keeping with prudent fiscal management, the province chose to champion new asset spending in certain key areas while continuing to invest in maintaining established assets that keep the public safe.  Although almost all areas where government is responsible for infrastructure were touched in this budget, it remains apparent that hard choices were still made.

The work necessary to achieve the goal of a balanced budget  has been recognized by Moody’s, an internationally recognized credit rating agency that recently awarded Saskatchewan with a AAA credit rating.  Some would suggest the awarding of this coveted rating has not been given enough recognition.  It is very important because it acknowledges the spending and investment flexibility the Saskatchewan government will have in future years.

At the same time, ACEC-SK observes there is a decline in projected capital investment over the medium-term.  Juxtapose this with a continuing increase in the infrastructure deficit in this province together with upcoming regulatory deadlines.  This puts the province at a cross-roads that will require careful consideration of future capital investment decisions.  While the capital spend by this province has been significant, a huge infrastructure deficit still exists and will only grow if consistent, measured infrastructure investments do not continue at or above current levels.

The province’s long-sought after stellar credit rating should afford this province the opportunity to continue to invest in infrastructure that supports the health, safety, and quality of life of Saskatchewan’s citizens, while leveraging engineering and scientific advances to grow Saskatchewan’s economy.  This credit rating should reassure the world that Saskatchewan is a stable market in which to invest.  Private sector investment in capital assets in this province will also contribute to reducing Saskatchewan’s infrastructure deficit.

The Right Infrastructure Balance is critical to Saskatchewan and its growth plan.

March 25, 2019

Member of: