Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is defending her decision to take an $8,000 charter flight from Regina to North Battleford. 

According to a Canadian Press report, Harpauer took the flight on March 25 to attend a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon as part of her budget tour across the province. 

She said looking at the bill for one flight isn’t fair as her travelling expenses are quite low. 

“Last year, I think I spent $11,000 in total, so when you look at the entire picture, which I think we should in order to be really forthcoming with the public, you will find that this government has brought down travel expenses incredibly from what it used to be,” Harpauer told the media. 

Harpauer added that she took the flight because she needed to get back to her constituency in Humboldt for other commitments and she wasn’t going to drive if she was tired. 

When asked why she didn’t hire a driver, she said it would still make for a long day having to drive from Regina to North Battleford to Humboldt and then back to Regina. 

“I'm not going to get a driver to drive me to Humboldt and stay the weekend and drive back because we're in session and you have to remember that budget week is my busiest week,” she said. 

She pointed to the fact that when the NDP formed government they flew to North Battleford 248 times in an eight-year span. Harpauer added that the government is saving money since shutting down Executive Air in 2017. 

Opposition NDP leader Carla Beck has been critical of the flight, which took place after Harpauer tabled to provincial budget that contained 32 new taxes and fees. She felt the provincial government’s spending shows that they are out of touch with the people of Saskatchewan. 

“This flight could have very easily been a drive,” said Beck. “People are making changes to their summer plans because they can't afford gas all while the minister is introducing new taxes and burning more money to get to a lunch than some people earn in months.” 

According to a statement released by the provincial government, the Ministry of SaskBuilds and Procurements typically coordinates charter flights. The statement added that driving is the primary mode of transportation within the province, but charter flights are used for longer distances or when long drive times impact other commitments.