The final Public Accounts report is out for 2019-20 and the province has posted a $319 million deficit for that year.
The province attributed the deficit to a steep revenue decline in the fourth quarter, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Revenue dropped $490 million in the fourth quarter, due mainly to a $431 million decline in net income from investment losses in the Government Business Enterprises (GBEs). Total revenue was $14.89 billion in 2019-20, which was actually up by $386 million compared to the previous year, but still short of budget projections by $138 million, or 0.9 per cent.
There was also an increase in total expenses to $15.21 billion in 2019-20, up $437 million or three per cent, or an overall $216 million over budget. This was attributed to larger than expected education expenses and was partly offset by lower-than-budgeted agricultural insurance claims.
In June, the province announced its 2020-21 budget, which posted a $2.4 billion deficit for the next year.
“Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Saskatchewan was on track for balanced budgets in 2019-20 and in the current fiscal year,” Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said in a news release. “Our government released a budget on June 15 that meets the challenges presented by the pandemic. I am confident that as Saskatchewan’s economy recovers, our revenues will also recover and we will get back to balance in the coming years.”