Budget trajectory stands, says new finance minister
Saskatchewan has a new finance minister, but Donna Harpauer — who replaced Kevin Doherty after the Regina MLA asked to take a break from the high-pressure job — says she doesn’t expect to deviate from her predecessor’s plan to halve a $1.2 billion deficit this year before bringing the budget back to balance over the next three years.
“I’m not anticipating making changes at this point,” the Humboldt MLA told reporters after she was sworn in as part of a larger cabinet shuffle aimed at filling five vacancies created by the Saskatchewan Party leadership race. “We have a path to balance that all of us, as government, have decided is what we wanted in this budget. So that is on track and that path to balance doesn’t change.”
Harpauer, who previously served as minister of Government Relations, inherits books stained with red ink. Doherty reported last week that more than half of a $300 million contingency fund built into his unpopular 2017-18 budget is now gone.
Doherty, who is to remain in cabinet as minister of Advanced Education after deciding not to run for the Sask. Party leadership, told reporters that while he probably took more heat over the budget than other government ministers, it did not influence his decision to take a step back after six years on the treasury board and two as finance minister.
“I still want him in the cabinet for the experience he provides,” Wall said, referring to the recent resignations of Tina BeaudryMellor, Ken Cheveldayoff, Jeremy Harrison and Gordon Wyant, all of whom want to replace him. They have been replaced at Social Services by Paul Merriman, Parks and Culture by Gene Makowsky, Economy by Steven Bonk and Justice and Attorney General by Don Morgan.
Also announced at Government House were the appointment of former advanced education minister Bronwyn Eyre as the province’s new minister of Education and former energy and resources minister Dustin Duncan at the helm of the Ministry of Environment, SaskPower, SaskWater, the Water Security Agency and the Global Transportation Hub.
Other new faces include Nancy Heppner, who returns to the table after a year away in Duncan’s old job and Larry Doke, who was legislative secretary to the highways ministry and will now run Government Relations and act as the Minister Responsible for First Nations, Metis and Northern Affairs.
Premier Brad Wall shuffled his cabinet Wednesday to replace five members who resigned to run for his job.