Confusion about Crowns

In the Throne Speech last month, the Sask Party administration signaled some surprising actions regarding Crowns. They have decided to create a shiny new Crown Corporation while eliminating another.

The remaining publicly owned liquor board stores in Saskatchewan will be shuttered in 2023, leaving room for free enterprise to step in. The timing came as a surprise to most people, although the process was started some time ago. The move aligns with the government’s approach that government should not interfere where private enterprise can succeed.

In the same Throne Speech, this government appears to head down an opposite route by creating a new Crown to deliver online education in Saskatchewan. However early information suggests that this will be at the expense of private enterprise.

Flex-ED is a private business that has successfully delivered online education in Saskatchewan for 17 years. The people that need their services are for reasons such as sickness, the need to travel with family, or even family lifestyle where homeschooling is preferred.

Flex-ED clients have come forward in various media to share how they are absolutely thrilled with how Flex-ED gives them tailored flexibility of choice in educating their families. In fact, Flex-ED was somewhat of a saviour and worked with the provincial government when schools were shut down during COVID. This was needed because the provincial education system doesn’t have the tools to deliver education online efficiently.

But now the government is telling Flex-ED that they will have to apply to be a qualified online education provider. But there’s no application for it yet. The Minister of Education has also stated that if Flex-ED passes the approval process , it will need to adopt the province’s online education platform, which doesn’t yet exist either.

In other words, this government is telling a company with a very successful business model, that it must abandon its own online platform, all its hard work and investments , if it wants the privilege of doing what it has already been doing successfully for 17 years.

Why? Is this a move that will ensure in the future only government-approved information can be used to educate our children? The public has a right to know what rationale this government is using to force existing online educators to comply with its yet-to-be-developed system. And at the same time, it needs to explain why it would choose now, during skyrocketing inflation, to shut down an existing Crown Corporation that will put 350 people out of work, while dreaming up another socialist-style Crown that will kill private enterprise.

This government needs to pick a lane.

Nadine Wilson is the Independent MLA for Saskatchewan Rivers.