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The Council of Canadians defends the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, opposes Wall’s austerity budget

The government of Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall intends to close the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, a provincial crown corporation created in 1946 by the CCF government of Tommy Douglas.

CBC reports, “In this week’s provincial budget, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty announced STC would be shuttered after more than 70 years of continuous service to some 200 communities. Workers to cancer patients to seniors have expressed outrage.”

That article highlights, “University of Regina professors JoAnn Jaffe called STC an essential public service. She doubts a private operator will serve smaller communities or provide anywhere close to the number of jobs that are being eliminated. Fellow University of Regina professor Cindy Hanson said the closure will lead to more pollution and more highway damage if people are forced to drive cars and trucks. The poor, elderly or disabled will simply not be able to travel.”

The Saskatchewan Transportation Company’s freight service is scheduled to end of May 19 and passenger service is to stop on May 31.

Saskatoon-based Council of Canadians Board member Tracey Mitchell says, “We need to resist this decision and the rest of the terrible decisions in this budget. We elect governments to make decisions about what to do with the resources that we collectively share. When they make grave errors in that process we can and should hold them accountable.”

As for those other terrible decisions, the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives notes:

  • While the government’s budget cuts and tax increases landed disproportionately on the shoulders of the poor, it simultaneously lavished multiple tax breaks on corporations.

  • There are the mean-spirited cuts to funeral services for social assistant recipients, that will save the government a mere pittance.

  • The government is also reducing the already meagre allowance of social assistance recipients.

  • [The government plans] to increase the provincial sales tax [including removing the PST exemption from children’s clothing].

  • Cuts to libraries will reduce programming and resources that so many people of limited means rely on for both education and leisure.

On that last point, the Regina Leader-Post reports, “For most library districts in the province, provincial funding has been cut between 50 and 60 per cent. The funding decrease will now result in staff cuts and an impact on services to many rural libraries.” CTV adds, “The cuts [will also] reduce funds to Saskatoon and Regina libraries by about $1.3 million.”

When public transportation, funeral services for the poor, and library services are cut, while corporations receive tax breaks, it becomes clear that austerity is not an economic necessity, it’s a political choice.

Mitchell says, “Please look for links about organizing meetings, rallies, and other opportunities to speak up for the things that matter to us.”

Further reading
Regina chapter calls on Wall government to reject austerity in its provincial budget (March 21, 2017)
Regina chapter slams Wall government’s budget (June 2, 2016)