April 4, 2005

Sask budget invests in initiatives to build green, prosperous economy

Infrastructure spending will be a highlight of Saskatchewan's centennial budget, one of whose objectives is to build an economy both "green" and prosperous. The government is allocating $22.7 million under the Canada-Saskatchewan Infrastructure Program, including $10.8 million in federal-provincial-municipal projects focused on "green" infrastructure, such as water and wastewater systems, energy-efficient public transit, waste management and recycling initiatives. In addition, the government will provide $9.2 million under the Canada-Saskatchewan Municipal Infrastructure Fund, with an estimated $3.4 million of that total for "green" projects.

Another major spending area will be continued implementation of the province's Safe Drinking Water Strategy, to which the government is allocating $24.6 million. Saskatchewan also plans to spend $900,000 for the Great Sand Hills environmental study, to determine future land uses in the area, plus $100,000 for an assessment of the cost and process for cleaning up abandoned non-uranium mines.

Other budget projections include: $4.9 million in rebates under the province's Ethanol Fuel Tax Rebate program; $1 million in anticipated provincial sales tax (PST) savings for purchasers of Energy Star appliances (point-of-sale PST exemptions came into effect April 1, 2005); and $43,000 in SARCAN grant increases.

Green energy, along with energy efficiency and conservation, are also priorities in the 2005 budget. The government is committing $1 million to the Energy Sector Initiatives Fund to support research and development activities related to energy development and conservation, plus $1.7 million for investments to increase energy efficiency of government buildings and $400,000 to provide 22% of executive government's power consumption from wind energy.

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