The world has changed. The global pandemic, the spread of COVID-19, has changed our lives. Through this unprecedented time, Saskatchewan's fiscal foundation remains solid. Our economy is resilient and our people are strong.
Saskatchewan is well positioned to recover from the effects of the pandemic because of the strength of our people and because we produce what the world needs – food, fuel and fertilizer. Our Government is helping our most vulnerable, and investing to stimulate the economy. Every province, every jurisdiction in the world, has seen its economy and finances hit hard by the pandemic. Saskatchewan is not immune or alone.
Our forecast deficit in the 2020-21 Budget is $2.4 billion. Revenue is projected to be $13.6 billion, down 8.3 per cent from last year, a result of the needed shuttering of domestic and global economies to contain the spread of COVID-19 combined with the oil price collapse.
Our expense in this Budget is projected to be $16.1 billion, up 7.2 per cent from last year's budget. We are investing in the well-being and safety of Saskatchewan people, our Government's highest priority. And we are funding many significant programs and services.
This Budget includes over $1.0 billion in support related to our fight against the pandemic, for individuals, for businesses and for initiatives to help our economy recover.
Our Government will invest $3.1 billion into infrastructure in 2020-21. It is the first year of an enhanced two-year $7.5 billion capital plan which includes $2.0 billion in stimulus funding provided in May, to further help our economy over the next two years.
The capital plan invests in schools, hospitals, highways, Crown utility projects, municipal infrastructure and other needed projects to stimulate our economy, create jobs and build a strong Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan people have worked hard, sacrificed much and followed public health orders to keep themselves and others safe from the spread of COVID-19. As a result, Saskatchewan's per capita case counts are nearly 80 per cent below the national average and our fatality rate is over 90 per cent below the national average. This gives us confidence as we move forward with our Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan that businesses can reopen and more people can return to work, while at the same time we can control the spread of the virus.
We have reason for measured optimism. Saskatchewan has the second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada. We've seen fewer business closures than other provinces, and so far this year we have the third-highest urban housing starts in the country. Also in April our agriculture product exports were up more than 20 per cent year-over-year, and while total goods exported were down, we had the lowest overall decline in Canada.
The Province entered this crisis in a strong financial position. Other provinces are expecting deficits that are comparably higher than ours. Saskatchewan was on track for a surplus in 2019-20 and 2020-21 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price collapse. The 2020-21 deficit is not a structural deficit. It is a pandemic deficit.
Our net debt-to-GDP is among the lowest in the country. We have the ability to invest in the priorities of Saskatchewan people. In the coming months we will develop an economic and fiscal plan to bring our budget back to balance over time, because we have the strength of Saskatchewan people and the solid foundation here, in our province, to do it.
We faced the pandemic, together. Now we are reopening our province, together. And we will rebuild and recover, together.
Honourable Donna Harpauer
Minister of Finance