© Herald file photo
Saskatchewan NDP leader Cam Broten
It is an unfortunate situation that will make Saskatchewan history.
After a review of the Saskatchewan government’s central financial statements, the independent provincial auditor filed an adverse audit opinion. The NDP is now calling for the finance minister to resign.
“This is a huge deal because it is unprecedented from the perceptive of a provincial auditor feeling it necessary to take such a major step,” NDP Leader Cam Broten said. “If this was the private sector and this had occurred for a publicly traded company, this could lead to the D-listing of the company on the stock exchange. Most certainly, the chief financial officer would be held to account some very tough questions to answer to.”
Although the Sask Party claims there is a $60-million surplus, the auditor says it is actually a $600-million deficit.
“Based on what the auditor is saying in her remarks is that the government’s statement in regards to the general revenue fund is full of errors, is unreliable and causes pervasive problems throughout,” Broten said. “That is why it is significant and why we are calling today for the finance minister to resign.
“This isn’t something to take lightly -- it is significant,” Broten said. “The call for him to resign fits the severity and seriousness of what the auditor suggests in her report.”
The government hasn’t provided enough information to provide a clear picture of the province’s finances, Broten said.
“The big issue is, because they have failed to provide all the accurate and transparent information, what the government claims is $60-million surplus, the auditor says is actually about a $600-million deficit,” Broten said. “That is a huge deal for the province and is absolutely concerning, especially at a time when the economy is strong.
“Because of the seriousness of what the auditor has said, I have to emphasis, this is unprecedented that an independent provincial auditor would feel compelled to take such a step,” Broten added. “If it was in the private sector it would have serious ramifications for a publicly traded company but the ramifications are just as significant and serious for a province.”
Although Broten said in the past there have been rumours about the Sask Party not keeping proper books, he added this is the first time an auditor has identified these type of concerns to make an adverse audit opinion.
“This is about the government not providing the accurate financial picture in respect to the general revenue fund,” Broten said. “If this was what had happened in the past, the auditor would not have been compelled to issue an adverse audit opinion, which is a very significant step.”
The NDP would like to see the finance minister resign due to this issue coming to light.
“It absolutely requires our attention and accountability from the finance minister,” Broten said. “We are going to continue to call for transparency, openness and a clear, accurate picture of the provincial finances.
“When we have the auditor in black ink saying that what the government suggests is a $60-million surplus is in fact a $600-million deficit, that’s concerning and if we can’t trust the numbers and the actual figures that are coming out of this government, then it causes us to question their ability to manage and their ability to tell an accurate, clear picture of what the provincial finances are,” Broten added. “We are going to continue to push for accountability and transparency.”
A late call was put in to the Sask Party but no one was available for comment before press deadline.