Bud­get tra­jec­tory stands, says new fi­nance min­is­ter

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION - ALEX MACPHER­SON amacpher­son@post­media.com twit­ter.com/macpher­sona

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.

MICHAEL BELL

Pre­mier Brad Wall shuf­fled his cabi­net Wed­nes­day to re­place five mem­bers who re­signed to run for his job.

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