SGI Putting Your Money To Work Outside The Province

FTLComm - Tisdale - Sunday, FEbruary 17, 2002


It was some years ago when Saskatchewan Government Insurance company established its all Canada division it was widely believed that this was just so the company could handle insurance business that involved services to Saskatchewan customers that went beyond our provincial boundaries. Though SGI and the provincial government have not made it a secret they have continued to expand outside of the province both in their SGI Canada operations but also by purchasing private insurance companies in Ontario and Prince Edward Island.



owners have
no say

Oddly enough the appropriateness of this expansion has not been the subject of much public discussion and certainly the owners of SGI have had no say whatever in what this company is doing. We need to give some serious thought as to how corporations are run to get some idea about what is happening with this company.



Private corporations are either responsible to the partners or immediate ownership of the company or in the case of publicly traded companies there influence and control of the company's actions through share holder meeting and the power that comes from appointing the members of the board of directors. However with a Crown corporation the owners, the citizens of the province or country involved must rely upon the overseeing governmental board who is responsible for the corporation's direction.

The owners of SGI have no means of which anyone is consciously aware of influencing or directing the actions of the company. The executives of the corporation seem utterly free to do whatever they want and this has been amply demonstrated here in Saskatchewan with all three of the major crown corporations. SGI, SaskTel and SaskPower operate without constraint from shareholders and because of bookeeping procedures no one outside the company can control what they do with money they generate, even the provincial legislature and the provincial auditory have no means of cheching on what they are up to. They can invest money in foreign companies, speculate on all sorts of investment to their hearts content.



no fault

In the case of SGI they were able to impose unilaterially no-fault insurance on the province of Saskatchewan while still collecting third party liability payments from customers ever since the program was introduced and no one could possibly collect on that insurance under no-fault. The imposition of no-fault insurance was done by the executive of the corporation with the excuse that it would stop the rise of insurance claims and thereby produce lower insurance rates. Of course we all know that during this time insurance rates rose in Saskatchewan fast than other places without no-fault because the strategy is designed to benefit the corporation not the customer.




So while Saskatchewan insurance customers have been seeing their premiums rise steadily the corporation has taken profits and invested them in Ontario and Prince Edward Island insurance companies. Much the same as SaskTel and SaskPower have demanded and obtained higher charges for their services while taking large amounts of money and developed investments in central America and Australia.




The establishment of the Crown Corporations was one of the means the CCF developed in the forties to provide services that were unavailable to the people of Saskatchewan. Rural electrification, telecommunication, regular bus serve to remote areas, affordable car insurance and later an attempt to retain some tax revenue being absconded by the federal government from mining operations. The basic reasons for these corporations were rooted in need and in many ways share the responsiblity for developing the province. The question now is if it is appropriate for these publicly owned companies to become capitalistic merger hungry operations striving to fulfill the dreams of the meglaminded executives that head up these corporations?

Timothy W. Shire

  SGI's corporate structure from their own site.
  Saskatchewan government news release announcing the acquistion of Ontario company.
  Saskatchewan government news release announcing the acquistion of Prince Edward Island company.