Before I tell you where I was, allow me to set the stage. Let’s go back to last year – March 20th, 2013. I emerged from my graduate student office, grabbed a coffee, and sat in the lobby of the Diefenbaker Centre in Saskatoon to watch provincial Finance Minister Ken Krawetz deliver the 2013-14 Budget speech with some faculty and fellow students. Like any good policy nerds, we discussed and then went on our way, happy to digest multiple news articles and radio interviews to hear what the who’s-who of political commentators had to say.
Fast forward a year. It’s March 19th, 2014, and I’ve spent nearly seven months as an intern in the Treasury Board Branch of the Ministry of Finance. Before, a new provincial budget meant a few weeks of excited speculation, concerns over tuition, health care, and other costs relevant to a graduate student, and lots of questions (and sometimes, even answers!).
This year, however, was different – as the acting Treasury Board analyst for Executive Council, I’d been going through the budget process with a portfolio of my very own. As an executive intern, I’d sat in high-level meetings about the budget weeks and months before any words would be spoken in the Chamber. Now, Budget Day wasn’t just a day to make sure I had extra coffee on hand and a well-charged phone to field the inevitable texts from my political-geek father. It was an end point, the culmination of something that many, many people worked very, very hard on. Of course, the work is not over, but there is a sense of relief that is palpable.
So on Budget Day this year, I was at the Legislative Building in Regina, making my rounds with boxes upon boxes of confidential budget documents, waiting until the moment that the Minister stood and the information would become public so that delivery could begin. Around 2:15, I began making my rounds, dropping off box after box at the offices of Cabinet Ministers, legislative staff, and other inhabitants of the Legislative Building. The amount of people that were crowded into the building was impressive – not just in the Chamber itself, but also in the rotunda and on the floors below and above. Although I already knew what was going to be in the budget, I found myself infected by the feeling of excited anticipation in the air. Later, celebrating with my co-workers, I was also imbued with their own excitement, relief, and sense of accomplishment of another job well done.
Being inside the Budget Analysis Division during the making of the provincial budget has been a very interesting, challenging, and rewarding experience. I had no idea what to expect when I began my internship, but the quality of the people and hard work involved in the production of the annual budget is exactly what I’d hoped it would be after years of budget-watching.
Although my internship will soon be coming to an end, I can say with confidence that I’ve learned more about government and real-world policy development in eight months here than I ever could have in a class. It’s been an invaluable experience and an excellent supplement to my academic training.
See you all on the other side!
Jaime Leonard is a JSGS student from the University of Saskatchewan campus, and a Provincial Intern at the Ministry of Finance.