When it was announced that Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan would be moving from the Education portfolio to becoming the minister responsible for the major crowns, it led to a number of questions being asked as to what this would mean for the direction of them. Some have even voiced concern the Crown Corporations would be put up for sale.
Duncan said there has been plenty of talk in the past about the possibility of privatizing the Crowns, and the thought of them being put up for acquisition by the highest bidder is not something that is on the table.
“We’ve demonstrated that whether it be SaskPower and SGI, SaskTel, SaskEnergy, the people of the province have spoken on this issue and that will continue to be the case,” said Duncan. “I wouldn’t view my being made the minister is going to change that. They’ll continue to be a part of the Crown portfolio of what the people own.”
The idea of potential privatization was addressed in 2004 with the Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act. This bill put in place rules concerning the sale of any potential Crown corporation by stating any act that authorizes the privatization of a Crown corporation must have a provision stating the legislation authorizing the privatization cannot come into effect until at least 90 days after the results of a general election are made official.
In 2017, the government under Brad Wall passed Bill 40 which allowed for the sale of up to 49 percent of all Crown corporations. They also closed the Saskatchewan Transportation Company that hear, and in 2022, the decision was made to close government-owned liquor stores.
The conversation came back to the forefront this year when it was announced SaskPower had a deficit of $172 million.
Duncan stated he is looking at his new role as one that is important for the economic prosperity of the province going forward.
“We want to continue to protect what we’ve built in this province and continue to build for the future, and so being the Minister responsible for the major Crown corporations and the Public Service Commission plays a big role in that.”