WINNIPEG -- The province could be getting out of the airport and ferry business in northern Manitoba.

The Pallister government is discussing the possibility of transferring the facilities to First Nations ownership and operation.

Premier Brian Pallister and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief, Arlen Dumas signed a memorandum to kickstart negotiations and the two sides hope some assests can begin being transferred as early as this summer.

Premier Brian Pallister says the deal is an example of reconciliation, because it provides First Nations with economic opportunities and ownership of the transportation system used to supply food, medication and other goods.

Both leaders said Ottawa would have to play a role for this to be successful.

A news release said the premier is committed to “maintaining this vital service at current or improved levels...”

The province has 23 northern airports and five marine operations.

- with files from the Canadian Press