Saskatchewan

Social media group protests potential sale of SaskTel

The group Save SaskTel is protesting the potential sale of the Crown corporation, after Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall discussed Tuesday what the sale could look like.

Premier Brad Wall clarifies government's position in Facebook post of his own

The group Save SaskTel formed in response to comments made about the potential sale of the Crown corporation. (Facebook)

When it comes to Saskatchewan's telecommunications company SaskTel, a new group on social media has a clear message — "not for sale." 

The group Save SaskTel formed after Premier Brad Wall discussed Tuesday what the sale of the Crown corporation could look like. 

Wall had said if the province were to get an offer, potentially in an amount high enough to eliminate its operating debt, the sale would go to the public for a vote. The debt is currently $4.1 billion. 

On Friday morning, the group had nearly 3,200 likes on Facebook and under 200 votes on Twitter. 

"It's time to show our support for SaskTel and help educate Saskatchewan residents on the pros to keeping the Crown corporation instead of selling it to the highest bidder," the group posted on Wednesday.

Financial concerns

Melody Stark, a Moose Jaw, Sask., resident is one of the group's supporters. 

She works four jobs and said she's worried a privatized SaskTel would mean higher rates and less money for the province. 

"It's really hard right now with the economy being as it is to survive. Having to have a provider coming in that's going to charge crazy rates for stuff is just not acceptable," Stark said. 

If this goes, this is going to be a really sad day.- Melody Stark, SaskTel supporter

She said keeping SaskTel public keeps the power in the hands of the people. Stark said she'll protest if any sale is proposed.    

"If this goes, this is going to be a really sad day. I know a lot of the other provinces made the mistake already, and I'm definitely going to be supporting any movement that people get together and support keeping it public. I'll be there," she said. 

Wall clarifies on Facebook

In a Facebook post on his own page, Wall further clarified the government's position on selling SaskTel. 

He said there is currently no offer on the table, and that any sale would need to be approved in a province-wide referendum. 

For now, there is no offer and nothing would take place without your say.- Premier Brad Wall

"SaskTel is a well-run company, a good employer and part of our history as a province," Wall wrote.

"For now, there is no offer and nothing would take place without your say." 

However, Wall went on to add that SaskTel is the only regional telecom left in Canada and that it is "simply difficult" for a telecom like that to keep up with infrastructure investments and pressures from large carriers.

He said any offer of significance would need to include ways to keep rates low, improve rural coverage and protect jobs. 

In an email, SaskTel said it would not be commenting on the matter.

"Thanks for your inquiry. SaskTel will not be commenting on the sale of SaskTel nor on things such as the Save SaskTel platform," a company spokesperson wrote.

Online response

So far people are writing posts on the Save SaskTel page both in favour of and against potential sale. 

Aside from spreading its message, several posts on the page are encouraging supporters to contact their local MLA or Dustin Duncan, minister responsible for SaskTel.

About the Author

Micki Cowan

Reporter/producer

Micki is a reporter and producer at CBC Vancouver. Her passions are municipal issues and water security.