We Will Beat COVID-19
Warmer days and a reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the province are among the many reasons for optimism in the past week. COVID-19 recoveries have outpaced new and active cases since April 11th with health facilities managing the demands placed on them by the pandemic.
Thank you first and foremost to all health care workers and medical professionals. We know the increased infection control measures make your demanding work even more taxing, and your dedication is greatly appreciated. Thank you to educators and many who have been finding new ways of reaching those they serve through distance technology. To those in our grocery stores and other front-line services who are providing for our essential needs; thank you. And to everyone for adhering to the necessary requirement, thank you; we continue to make progress in reducing the spread and flattening the curve in the fight against COVID-19.
It is with these things in mind that our government recently announced our plan to gradually and cautiously begin to re-open businesses and services that have been ordered to close. Businesses that are currently closed should prepare themselves to operate under physical distancing and sanitation conditions as we look to reopen through phases in the weeks and months ahead.
Our Re-Open Saskatchewan plan introduces five phases to methodically, gradually, and cautiously re-open businesses and services across Saskatchewan beginning May 4th, 2020. The latest COVID-19 updates, including our Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, can be found online at www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID19.
The timing and order of the businesses and workplaces included in each phase is subject to change throughout the process based on a continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors. Residents should remain diligent in maintaining physical distancing and practicing good hygiene.
The severity of the impact COVID-19 will have on Saskatchewan’s economy is still uncertain. Fortunately, strong management of the province’s finances in recent years has provided a solid fiscal foundation from which to manage the pressure of the current pandemic crisis and ultimate recovery.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price collapse, Saskatchewan was on track for a surplus in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Our province has maintained the second highest credit rating in the country, continues to have among the lowest net-debts as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and continues to maintain a solid cash position.
Setting a budget became a challenge for all levels of government as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. The Saskatchewan provincial budget had to be delayed with only spending estimates announced March 18. Despite this, our government believes that it is important to let Saskatchewan people know just how much of an impact the pandemic is having on our economy and revenues.
Our government has committed to providing the financial resources needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Finance Minister Donna Harpauer recently provided a range of preliminary revenue impacts, using three different scenarios related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As can be expected, this is challenging with so many unknown variables.
It is important to remember that the resulting 2020‐21 deficit is not a structural deficit, it is a pandemic deficit. The province of Saskatchewan will manage through this because we have the strength, resiliency, fiscal foundation and the people to do it.