Referendum possible on selling SaskTel: Premier

If a good deal is found, the future of SaskTel could come down to the people of Saskatchewan.

Premier Wall made comments at annual SUMA convention

Premier Brad Wall says any potential sale of SaskTel may come down to a referendum. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

The future of SaskTel could come down to the people of Saskatchewan.

Premier Brad Wall was asked Wednesday at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention about whether the government would sell the telecommunications Crown corporation.

Wall told delegates he would be willing to have the people of Saskatchewan vote in a binding referendum, if the deal was good for the province.

Bell Canada's (TSX:BCE) multibillion-dollar acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services is expected to be made official sometime this year.

SaskTel has said it has strategies to address the risk posed by Bell's takeover.

Without MTS, SaskTel would be the only major regional player in Western Canada, surrounded by two of the large players — Telus in the west and BCE to the east.

"If we were to get an offer as a result of the offer that's happened in MTS for a majority of the company and we believed that it was good for the province for any number of reasons, it checked a lot of boxes in terms of keeping jobs in Saskatchewan, the head office here, better coverage, well then I can't say yes to that deal because we didn't campaign on that," Wall said.

"But I don't think I should say no either without checking with the shareholders."

Wall was also asked several questions about the province's growing deficit and how the government plans to balance the budget later this year.

He repeated his message that "everything is on the table," including tax increases and civil service job cuts.

Wall said earlier this week that the deficit had grown to $1.2 billion dollars, and his government was committed to balancing the budget.