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Province privatizes property registry

Privatizing the province’s property agency will make it faster and easier for Manitobans to find and register legal documents when selling a house, the government said Monday.

The Selinger government announced it would sell the registry to Ontario-based Teranet for $75 million more than a year ago.

The two sides officially signed the deal this morning.

"This new agreement is an example of our government’s efforts to find new and innovative ways to run our government in a more efficient and cost effective way," Finance Minister Jennifer Howard said in a statement. "It means better service for the public, a stable revenue stream for the province and a reduction in the size of government without putting any Manitobans out of work."

On top of the purchase price, Teranet Manitoba will pay royalties to the government in exchange for a licence to provide property registry services to the public.

Teranet will invest $35.5 million in new technology to ensure services such as titles, property searches and registrations will be available through a more convenient, faster and secure online system.

There will be estimated annual royalty payments of $11 million, increasing to $24 million at the end of the 30-year licensing agreement.

Employees of the existing property registry will be transferred to the new firm, reducing the size of government by more than 100 employees. Teranet will not lay-off employees and will protect employee benefits, according to the terms of the deal.

The agreement also includes provisions for the province to limit increases in fees to stable and predictable changes. All existing property registry offices will remain open.

Data used by Teranet, such as land survey and property titles, are now and will always be owned by the province and protected by privacy legislation, the province said.

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