Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

SAVE STC

Posted by strattof on May 25, 2017

As part of its austerity budget, the Wall government is eliminating the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC). According to the government, it is a drain on provincial coffers as it has to be subsidized.

A Crown Corporation, STC belongs to the people of Saskatchewan. Its mandate is not to make a profit, but to provide an essential public service. This it has been doing ever since 1946, the year STC was founded.

People travel on the bus across Saskatchewan: to go to work, for medical procedures and appointments, to visit family and friends, for shopping, to attend university or college classes. For many, STC is the only option for long-distance transportation.

We must save STC. The matter is urgent. STC is scheduled to cease operations on May 31, less than one week from today.

WHY WE MUST SAVE STC: 8 GOOD REASONS

  1. THE COMMON GOOD: STC serves the common good. It provides safe and affordable transportation for people who are unable to afford to drive a car, allowing them to travel to work, to appointments, to visit relatives—to do all the things other people take for granted. 70% of STC riders are low-income.
  2. HEALTH: STC allows our healthcare system to function efficiently and effectively and helps to keep us healthy.
  • 300 rural cancer patients use STC to get to appointments.
  • STC delivers medical supplies to people, lab specimens to hospitals for analysis, and water samples to the Disease Control Lab for testing.
  1. HIGHWAY SAFETY: Public transportation is 10 times safer than driving in Canada. STC has an excellent safety record and is known for the professionalism of its drivers.
  2. HIGHWAY OF TEARS: Indigenous peoples are among the frequent users of STC. In BC, the absence of a rural bus service resulted in the Highway of Tears. Did the Sask Party government take into account the cost to Indigenous peoples of eliminating STC?
  3. THE ENVIRONMENT: STC is good for the environment. Instead of 30 people using their own individual cars, 30 people travel on the same bus, thus reducing carbon emissions. Saskatchewan has the highest per capita CO2 emission rates in Canada, three times the national average.
  • The Saskatchewan government should be investing more money in public transportation, not less.
  • We all should be using public transportation, rather than driving our private vehicles.
  1. NEWLY RELEASED PRISONERS: Many newly-released prisoners rely on STC to return to their communities, especially those who come from the north. Many of these prisoners are on remand and have not even been convicted. Lack of transportation will separate them from their families and communities for even longer periods.
  2. LIBRARY SERVICES: Kudos to the Wall government for restoring the funding it cut to the province’s libraries. Those funds will not, however, be sufficient on their own to save the unique and widely admired Saskatchewan Library System. The reason? Because that system depends on STC to transport library materials (books, journals, DVDs) inexpensively and efficiently between libraries scattered all over the province.
  3. CONNECTIONS: Serving 253 communities in very corner of our vast province, STC connects us: rural and urban, southern and northern, First Nations and settler communities.

WASTEFUL SPENDING

According to the Wall government, the annual subsidy to STC is $17 million. This is the government’s main rationale for eliminating STC: that the subsidy is wasteful spending.

Here are some examples of REALLY WASTEFUL Wall government spending:

$2.1 billion            Overpayment on GTH land deal

$120 million          Consultants’ fees 2009 – 2014

$115 million          Loss due to liquor privatization

$40 million            LEAN program

$15 million            Defective Smart Meters

WRONG PRIORITIES

Meanwhile, the Wall government has reduced the tax rate for corporations and high income individuals—tax breaks that will mean $107.5 million in lost revenue to the province this year.

Without these tax breaks, we could restore $17 million in funding to STC and still have plenty left over for other public services that have been cut, including funeral services for poor people and children’s school supplies for people on social assistance.

A government that has money for tax breaks but not for social services is a government with a wrong sense of priorities.

SAVE STC

Act now to save STC. The matter is urgent. The government plans to end STC passenger service on May 31, less than one week from today.

  • Let Premier Brad Wall know you oppose the elimination of STC and why: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.
  • Send the same message to the Minister responsible for STC, Joe Hargrave: pacarltonmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-7339.
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