The Saskatchewan government says its deficit has been cut by more than a billion dollars after an increase in revenue and lower-than-expected expenses.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said the year-end deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year is $1.13 billion, a decrease of $1.3 billion from the budget.

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“Our year-end financial statements show that Saskatchewan is in a much better fiscal situation than we anticipated as life and the economy start to get back to normal following the global pandemic,” Harpauer said in a statement Wednesday.

“Moving forward, our focus continues to be on protecting Saskatchewan people, investing in vital infrastructure such as highways, hospitals and schools and helping our economy grow and recover.”

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The Ministry of Finance said revenue was up in all categories with the exception of taxes.

Total revenue was $14.52 billion, up 6.4 per cent from what was projected in the budget.

Ministry officials said significant decreases in taxation and non-renewable resource revenue were partially offset by higher transfers from the federal government and by higher Government Business Enterprise net income.

Expenses were down in agriculture, environment, natural resources and education, which the ministry said was offset, in part, higher health expenses.

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Overall, expenses were $15.65 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, 2.4 per cent lower than the budget projection.

“We are seeing greater private investment recently, which demonstrates confidence in our province’s economy and solid fiscal foundation,” Harpauer said.

“We are seeing job growth that is the highest among provinces, and we are leading Canada’s economic recovery.”

Harpauer forecast a deficit of $2.6 billion in her 2021-22 budget, with a promise to return to a balanced budget in 2026-27.

She has not said if she expects to balance the books earlier than forecast.

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More to come…

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan commits $4.8B in COVID-19 economic response, $1.5B in 2021-22 budget'

Saskatchewan commits $4.8B in COVID-19 economic response, $1.5B in 2021-22 budget

Saskatchewan commits $4.8B in COVID-19 economic response, $1.5B in 2021-22 budget – Apr 6, 2021

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