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Crown Corporations

Crown corporations are companies owned by the Saskatchewan government on behalf of the people of the province. Public enterprises in the form of Crown corporations were established in Saskatchewan to provide certain essential services that were either not offered by private companies or not available to all residents on an equitable basis. The four guiding principles of the Crowns were that the services they provided should be universal (available to everyone), reliable, of high quality, and offered at a reasonable cost. As the Crowns have grown, they have been required to balance these public policy objectives with commercial and financial objectives by contributing to the economy and providing a return on investment to their shareholder, the government, on behalf of the people (see Table CC-1).

Saskatchewan’s earliest public enterprise was begun four years before Saskatchewan joined Confederation in 1905. In 1901, the Territorial Government sold hail insurance. In 1906, three commercial creameries were established by the new provincial government. A year later, the Eagle Lake coal mine was developed. The predecessor of SaskTel was established in 1908 as the Department of Railways, Telephones and Telegraphs; it was given the authority to create and operate local and long-distance telephone lines in an effort to provide cost-effective service to as many farms, homes and businesses as possible. In 1929, the predecessor of SaskPower was established as the Saskatchewan Power Commission to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective power to all Saskatchewan people. The Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office (now SGI) was established in 1945, while the Saskatchewan Transportation Company started the following year to ensure that as many communities as possible had access to reasonably priced Transportation and freight service from a fleet of buses. The Government Finance Office (predecessor of Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan) was formed in 1947 as a holding company for the province's commercial Crown corporations; besides being a holding company, it developed broad policy control, directed investment, and routed dividends from the Crowns into the government’s consolidated fund.

Over the years, various Crowns have been established in the province's resource sector. Saskatchewan Oil & Gas Corporation (SaskOil) was formed in 1973 to explore for, develop, produce, and market crude oil and natural gas. SaskOil's status as a Crown was ended in 1985, and a year later the majority of its shares were sold to the public. SaskOil was renamed Wascana Energy Inc. in 1996, and in 1997 the government’s remaining minority interest in the company was sold to Canadian Occidental Petroleum (now Nexen). The potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) was formed in 1975 to allow the government to exert greater influence on Saskatchewan’s potash resources. The company’s status as a Crown corporation was ended in 1989, and the majority of its shares were sold to the public in two share offerings in 1989 and 1990.

Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation (SMDC) was established in 1975 to explore for minerals in northern Saskatchewan. In 1988, SMDC and the federally owned Eldorado Nuclear merged to form the CAMECO Corporation, and in 2002 the province sold its remaining shares in the company. CAMECO is now one of the world's largest Uranium mining companies. Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan (CIC) is the holding company for Saskatchewan's commercial Crown corporations. CIC’s 11 wholly owned subsidiary Crowns in 2004 were: Information Services Corporation of Saskatchewan (ISC), a Crown formed in 2000 to administer the province's land titles and survey legislation, and to automate and operate a computerized land titles system; Investment Saskatchewan Inc., a Crown formed in 2003 to manage the portfolio of publicly owned investments formerly held by CIC; Saskatchewan Development Fund Corporation, established in 1974 to act as trustee, custodian and manager of the Saskatchewan Development Fund, an open-end investment trust; Saskatchewan Government Growth Fund Management Corporation (SGGFMC), started in 1989 to create and manage subsidiary fund companies which raise venture capital from new Canadian immigrants; Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), which sells a complete line of home, personal, and auto insurance protection and administers the Saskatchewan Auto Fund, the province’s compulsory auto insurance program; Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation (SOCO), established in 1994 to support economic growth and job creation through investments in businesses and infrastructure. In 2002, SOCO’s investment portfolio was transferred to CIC (and subsequently to Investment Saskatchewan Inc. in 2003). SOCO continues to operate the Regina research park and the Innovation Place research park in Saskatoon; Saskatchewan Power Corporation (SaskPower); Saskatchewan telecommunications (SaskTel); Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), established in 1946 to provide passenger transportation and freight service with a fleet of buses; Saskatchewan Water Corporation (SaskWater), begun in 1984 to manage, administer, develop and protect the water and related land resources in Saskatchewan; and SaskEnergy Incorporated (SaskEnergy), which was formed in 1988 to provide natural gas transmission and distribution services across the province.

Each of CIC’s subsidiary Crown corporations has its own board of directors and minister responsible, through whom they report to the CIC Board of Directors. The CIC Board, made up of provincial Cabinet Ministers, is a key committee of the provincial government’s Cabinet. The Board makes decisions in its own right, and forwards recommendations to Cabinet for consideration. The Board’s responsibilities include: approving CIC’s strategic direction, operating plans and budget; monitoring and evaluating the performance of subsidiary Crown corporations; allocating capital within the Crown corporation sector; and approving CIC’s annual financial statements.

CIC and its subsidiary Crown corporations are required to appear annually before the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations. This committee is made up of members of all parties in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. Each Crown is also required to table an annual report with the Legislature.

Karen Schmidt

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provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
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Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.