Reality Check: Rising rates & rising debt undermine Sask. Party’s dividend hype

If there are two key take-aways from this year’s Crown Corporation annual reports, it’s their importance to Saskatchewan people and Saskatchewan’s economy, and the consequences of their continued mismanagement. The Sask. Party government has made a lot of noise over the past week about the dividends our Crowns are paying to distract from the ballooning debt they’re carrying, and the rising rates Saskatchewan people are paying under their mismanagement. 

“Well-managed Crowns would pay valuable dividends to the general revenue fund without hiking customers’ rates or tripling the debt,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “But under the Sask. Party, we’ve seen rising rates and rising debt while they continue to pull money from our Crowns to fill the gaps in their budget.”

“This government has allowed Crown debt to skyrocket and rates to rise while they pocketed more dividends to fund pet projects. That’s no way to run our Crowns,” Meili said. “The Sask. Party’s record of Crown management is one of failed, expensive megaprojects like carbon capture, smart meters and the GTH. This has put an enormous strain on the Crowns and the public, leaving the people to pay the price in higher bills.”

Let’s break some of the numbers down:

  • This government added $379 million in additional CIC consolidated debt in 2018-19, while pulling $209 million in dividends from SGI, SaskTel, SaskPower and SaskEnergy.
  • SaskPower long-term debt rose by $383 million in the last year even as the Sask. Party has hiked SaskPower rates for three years running: 5% in 2016, 3.5% in 2017, and 3.5% in 2018. 
  • SaskTel’s net debt went up $92 million and SaskEnergy’s net debt rose by $81 million.
  • SaskTel, SaskPower and SaskEnergy have a cumulative net debt of $10.34 billion.
  • In 2007, CIC Crown debt was $3.9 billion. By 2018-19, CIC Crown debt had jumped to $9.4 billion.

“Our Crowns are so important to our prosperity, and to keeping life affordable, but this government’s record erodes their ability to do that,” Meili said. “We can’t forget that only a year ago the Sask. Party was still talking about selling half of them off.”

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