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Quill Plains chapter says federal funding could have saved STC bus service

The Council of Canadians Quill Plains (Wynyard) chapter has written to Saskatchewan Party MLA Hugh Nerlien about the federal transit funding that was available to maintain the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), a crown corporation that provided bus service to 200 communities in the province for more than 70 years.

NDP MP Erin Weir has noted, “Premier Brad Wall rushed to eliminate this needed [STC bus] service without even asking for Saskatchewan’s fair share of federal transit funding, which would be more than enough to maintain STC.”

Saskatchewan could receive up to $640 million in federal funding for transit, while the STC would have cost about $85 million over the next five years. Weir wrote Wall with this idea, but notes, “Wall responded on May 11 that he would eliminate STC even if federal funding were available to continue its operation.”

Chapter activist Elaine Hughes writes, “Why has the Sask Party not taken this situation seriously, acted in the best interest of your constituents and agreed to work with the federal government to keep this public, essential SERVICE operating?”

She adds, “Why have we been over-looked, ignored and arrogantly ‘thrown under the bus’ on this issue? You have left hundreds of rural Saskatchewan residents stranded – with no public transport – what gives you the right?”

The STC was created in 1946 by the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) government of Tommy Douglas. Its mandate was to provide bus services carrying people and freight between major centres and to as much of the rural population as possible.

Its freight service ended on May 19 and its passenger service ended on May 31.

The CBC has reported, “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.”