Today, in contrast to the openness and transparency that should come with the release of a Crown Corporation’s annual report, the Minister responsible for SaskTel refused to provide any details about discussions that he admits are ongoing with “several” communications companies for the sell-off of SaskTel.
“Saskatchewan people have made it clear that they want SaskTel and the rest of our Crowns to stay in the hands of Saskatchewan people. The only interest in selling off SaskTel comes from the Sask Party, and they have no absolutely no mandate to do so,” said NDP House Leader and SaskTel Critic Warren McCall. “It’s unacceptable for the Sask. Party to continue their negotiations – especially while refusing to release even the most basic details about the deals they’re cooking up.”
SaskTel’s annual report shows an increase of over $12 million in revenues this year, helping to achieve the Crown’s net income of $134.8 million.
“SaskTel’s annual report illustrates literally millions of reasons why SaskTel should not be sold off,” said McCall. “The dividends SaskTel earns for its owners – all Saskatchewan people - help pay for our roads, schools, and hospitals. SaskTel also employs thousands of Saskatchewan people, provides world-class innovation, and ensures great service and low rates.”
Despite committing to not sell off SaskTel, last spring the Sask. Party pushed Bill 40 through the legislature and changed the law to let them sell off 49 per cent of any Crown Corporations without asking the owners – Saskatchewan people – through a referendum. The Minister responsible for SaskTel was also caught attempting to hide meetings with telecommunications companies to discuss the sale.
“The Sask. Party changed the law to scrap important protections of our crowns, laughed off suggestions that they were planning sell-offs, and then tried to hide meetings they were having with potential buyers. People have good reason to be concerned about what they’re hiding now,” McCall said. “The Sask. Party need to come clean about what their plans are for a sell-off of SaskTel and they need to admit what the rest of us already know: this is desperate attempt for a short-term cash grab to try to make up for the Sask. Party’s mismanagement, scandal and waste.”