New report chronicles 10 years of privatization in Saskatchewan

The privatization of Saskatchewan’s public services and assets is accelerating, putting the province at odds with a global trend of renewed public ownership, says a new report that tracks 10 years of privatization in Saskatchewan.

The Wrong Track: A Decade of Privatization in Saskatchewan, 2004-2015 was released today by the Saskatchewan office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It identifies over 50 examples of privatization in its various forms – including contracting-out of public services, the sale of Crowns and their subsidiaries, and the use of public-private partnerships (P3s.) A pocket timeline, published along with the full report, provides an easy reference for the dozens of privatizations Saskatchewan has seen in recent years.

The first victim of this recent wave of privatization, the report finds, has been the accountability and transparency that normally accompanies public ownership.

“In [the] battle between the public’s right to know versus the private sector’s right to confidentiality, the clear winner in Saskatchewan has been the private sector,” writes author Simon Enoch.

The report also provides detailed case studies of three recent privatizations: the handover of hospital laundry services to an Alberta-based company; SaskPower’s growing reliance on privately-owned generating stations; and the sale of the Saskatchewan Communications Network.

The report concludes that Saskatchewan is moving in the opposite direction of the wider world, where privatized services and assets are increasingly being brought back under direct public control. In the United States and the U.K., governments are realizing that privatization hasn`t delivered savings or improved service, and are rebuilding their in-house capabilities.

“Saskatchewan’s current fetish with privatization stands in stark contrast to the prevailing trend in the rest of the world,” writes Enoch. “Privatization is increasingly facing a popular backlash across the globe as citizens — weary of the failed promises of privatization — have returned privatized assets and services to public ownership and control.”

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