You say the current government is privatizing Crowns, what have they done so far?
Since the Brad Wall government
began piecing away our Crown Corporations, we have attacks at various levels of
our organizations. This process began 2008 with the introduction of the Sask
First Policy. Although it is not even a formal policy, but rather four bullet
points on a news release, this framework determines investment restrictions for
all of our Crowns.
In 2009 we began to see the dismantling of Crown Corporations in the form of selling off our organizations piece by piece. Significant sales included:
- Heritage Gas
- DirectWest Canada
By 2010 our current government became very comfortable with the process of taking apart our Crowns. Last year we saw a number of attacks on Crowns including:
- Northland Income Trust Power Purchase Agreement (Privatizing nearly 10% of our power in SK)
- Sale AgDealer
- Sale of Saskatoon Square (real estate)
- Sale of the Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN)
- Crown Dividend Policy - stripping 100% of dividends from Crowns (all except SaskPower)
- Contracting out SGI General License Plates
- Closure of more than 20% of SaskPower offices (for walk-in customers)
- SaskPower, SaskEnergy and SaskTel line locates contracted out
- Significant changes to SGI Canada policies affecting local brokers
- SaskTel Operator Services contracted out to a direct competitor (Telus)
- SGI Canada sale of shares in Charlie Cook Insurance
- SaskTel Max Television Service Installations contracted out to direct competitor (Jump.ca)
- SaskTel Satellite High Speed Internet Service contracted out to two private companies
- Sale of the Hospitality Network
- SGI Canada sale of shares in Atlantic Adjusting and Appraisals Ltd. (AAA) and Maritime Finance and Acceptance Corporation (MFAC)
What is a Crown Corporation?
Crown Corporations are organizations that are owned and operated by the government. Income that is generated by Crowns is returned in the form of dividends to the government's general revenue fund, which is then redistributed to a variety of areas including Saskatchewan libraries, highways, hospitals, schools, and many more.
The operations of publicly owned enterprises is part of our Saskatchewan identity and in fact, have been around longer than Saskatchewan has even been an official province. Beginning in 1901 with hail insurance, and evolving to over 20 different organizations today, Crowns affect every citizen of the province every single day.
Whether it be a major centre, a town, village, hamlet, or First Nation settlement, the Crowns were formed with four guiding principles; to assure that essential services are reliable, high quality, reasonably affordable, and most importantly, universal. We may take for granted the government mandates that assure we have services like clean water, power, energy, communication services, and public transportation.
Why are Crowns important for Saskatchewan?
For more than one hundred years, Saskatchewan has thrived on the affordable and accessible services offered by Crown Corporations. To this day, Saskatchewan residents continue to benefit from our Crown Corporations investing millions of dollars back into our towns, cities, schools, charity organizations and community events.
Thousands of people and families in Saskatchewan prosper directly from the employment and benefits provided by our Crowns.
But if we want to keep reaping these benefits, it is vital to keep these organizations 100 percent publicly-owned. Unfortunately, we’re seeing a growing trend of piece-meal privatization as profitable parts of Crown corporations are sold off for political reasons.
How many Crown Corporations are there in Saskatchewan?
Currently in Saskatchewan there are a set of Crown Corporations and a set of Treasury Board Crowns.
Currently the government states there are 18 Crown Corporations in Saskatchewan, which include:
What is a Power Purchase Agreement or PPA?
In February of 2010, SaskPower entered into a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Ontario-based Northland Power Income Fund. Construction began on the plant in July 2010 and is scheduled to begin operations in 2013. Once fully operational Northland Power will produce 347 megawatts of base load power, representing nearly 10% of the power generated in Saskatchewan.
According to a Northland Power news release, the agreement "provides protection against changes in the market price of natural gas, as fuel costs are passed through SaskPower."
So Northland Power is protected against the changes in the price of natural gas, but the people of Saskatchewan are being told to expect annual rate increases by our current government.
Public-private partnerships (P3's) of this nature remove any risk for Northland Power and put it all on the backs of the people of Saskatchewan. Where residents of Saskatchewan should benefit from the success of SaskPower, we now assume the risk of a contract "designed to ensure predictable, stable, and sustainable cash flows over the entire 20-year term," for Northland Power.
This is a perfect example of how our current government is setting private companies up for success, while setting the hard working people of Saskatchewan up for failure. SaskPower is more than capable of building and successfully operating this type of facility, while ensuring the people of this province benefit from the economic returns.
It is very clear that the government direction to SaskPower is stifling business opportunities for our Crown Corporations while letting companies from outside Saskatchewan thrive without the risk of market pressures.