Privatization in Saskatchewan has often been described as a “political third rail” – an issue so potentially volatile that is can be handled only with the utmost care. Certainly, there is little doubt, given the political baggage that privatization carries, that politicians in Saskatchewan exercise extra caution when raising the issue. As Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk colourfully puts it, “Welcome to Saskatchewan where, if you are talking privatization, you best check out all the exits.”
But has privatization become a figurative ‘third rail’ — too hazardous to even touch? The Wrong Track: A Decade of Privatization in Saskatchewan, 2004-2015 – from the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – argues that despite all of the political recriminations and admonitions that have been expended on the issue of privatization in the past decade, Saskatchewan has actually witnessed an acceleration of the privatization of public assets and services over the last ten years. The report offers a detailed chronological history of privatization in the province from 2004 to 2015. The report catalogues privatizations in all of their various forms, from the outright sale of Crown corporations and the sale of Crown subsidiaries to public-private partnerships (P3s) and the contracting out of public services to the private sector. Overall, we identify more than 50 instances of privatization in the past decade, the vast majority initiated by the Saskatchewan Party government since its election in 2007.
Also, check out our handy Pocket Privatization Timeline below that puts the history of privatization in the province over the last decade at your fingertips!