Please check out the Member Statement from May 15, 2017 on the Facebook page

GOVERNMENT ENDS SASKATCHEWAN TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (STC) SUBSIDY – BUS COMPANY TO BE WOUND DOWN

Crown Investments Minister Joe Hargrave today announced that operating and capital subsidies to the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) will end in 2017-18, leading to the company being wound down. Freight will continue to be accepted for delivery until May 19, and passenger services will cease May 31, 2017.

“As ridership has declined and costs have increased, STC’s subsidy has reached unsustainable levels,” Hargrave said. “STC’s per passenger subsidy has grown from $25 per passenger 10 years ago to $94 per passenger today.

“Over the next five years, STC is forecasted to require more than $85.0 million in subsidies to continue operating. Our government believes that those funds can be put to better use elsewhere in government.”

A number of long-term trends have contributed to the deterioration of the sustainability of STC:

  • Canadian intercity bus travel continues to decline - National trends in intercity bus travel continue to impact STC’s ability to provide service. Decreased connecting schedules in neighbouring provinces, increased vehicle ownership, moderate fuel prices, and increased migration to urban centres have led to a decline in intercity bus travel. (Statistics Canada, The Daily, July 25, 2016)
  • Provincial ridership is steadily declining - Only two out of twenty-seven routes in STC’s network are profitable. The popularity of intercity bus travel in Saskatchewan peaked thirty-five years ago and has declined by 77 per cent since then.
  • Competition with parcel delivery sector - Competition with private sector delivery companies has been a concern. Removing STC from the parcel delivery sector opens up the competitive process for the private sector operators.
  • Efforts to limit the growth of the company’s subsidies have been exhausted.

Throughout the 1990s, thirteen routes were discontinued and service frequencies were reduced. Beginning in 2012, further frequency reductions and schedule adjustments were implemented on numerous routes and three additional routes were discontinued. Despite these and other efforts, the subsidy continues to grow.

EMBARGOED RELEASE
Mar 22, 2017
Until 2:15 PM

"The decision to wind down STC was not arrived at easily,” Hargrave said. “Over the last number of years, our government has made a determined effort to contain the growth of the company’s annual subsidy. But based on all of the trends, it is clear that ridership will continue to decline, costs will continue to rise and more and more money would go into STC to keep it operating. The $85.0 million that would have been spent on STC’s operations over the next five years can be redirected to other priorities.”

A total of 224 staff will be impacted by the closure. STC employees will receive fair treatment in accordance with corporate policies.

OPERATIONAL NOTE: To enable STC staff to meet with management regarding the wind-down, operations will be curtailed on March 22-23:

  • Beginning at 1 p.m. March 22, various scheduled trips across the network will be suspended for the remainder of the day and into the morning of March 23.
  • The Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert terminals will remain open.
  • Services will resume regular schedules during the afternoon of March 23.

Please check the website at www.stcbus.com, call 1-800-663-7181, or call your local Terminal or Agency for further information on schedules during this period. For specific details and facts, see the attached backgrounder.

STC, The Saskatchewan Transportation Company
STC, The Saskatchewan Transportation Company is a provincial crown corporation providing passenger and express bus service to the people of Saskatchewan.
STCBUS.COM

Library Annoucement

As you all are aware, due to the financial circumstances of the province, difficult budget decisions had to be made. The reduction in library funding was one of these decisions. The 2017-18 budget for the provincial library system was reduced by $4.84 million.

2016-17: $11,090,000
2017-18: $$6,250,000

Regional and municipal libraries were particularly affected. Municipal libraries (Regina and Saskatoon) did not receive any funding in 2017-18. This represents a 2.75% reduction in the Regina Public Library’s operating budget, and a 3% reduction for the Saskatoon Public Library. Regional libraries saw a reduction of $3.5 million, from $6.02 million in 2016-17, to $2.5 million in 2017-18.

It is important to note that provincial grants do not support local branch operations, which are the responsibility of the local municipality.

We want to work with our libraries to adjust how they deliver their services with the available funding levels. Our focus is on supporting things such as electronic resources, interlibrary loans and community net. It is our hope that local libraries will work with their municipalities and school divisions to find new ways of delivering services.

Legislative Report

18 May 2017

Spring Session Highlights

The provincial budget has generated discussion inside the legislature and across the province. Many of the difficult decisions highlighted a Legislative Session that saw Saskatchewan move away from its reliance on resource revenues and ensure the economy and finances stay strong.

In the long run, it is better to make tough but necessary choices today and avoid kicking the deficit can down the road for someone else to deal with. Our choice to meet the fiscal challenge now meant making some difficult decisions for the long-term fiscal and economic strength of our province.

Recent economic indicators show the resilience of Saskatchewan’s diversified economy. Employment is up through the first four months of the year, exports are up significantly and Saskatchewan has led the country in areas like wholesale trade, retail sales and building permit growth.

The decisions we are making today will ensure it stays strong into the future.

The government passed several pieces of legislation during the spring sitting, including:

  • Legislation to reduce health care administration and better co-ordinate health services by amalgamating the province’s health regions into one provincial health authority;
  • Legislation to protect victims of domestic violence by allowing them to end rental leases early if necessary to remove themselves from an unsafe situation;
  • Legislation to clearly define what does and doesn’t constitute “privatization”;
  • Legislation to encourage investment in innovation through the creation of the first “patent box” incentive in North America;
  • Legislation to improve pipeline safety; and
  • Legislation to improve safety for tow truck operators by allowing flashing blue lights to be used on tow trucks.

During the spring session, Premier Wall announced that, in addition to an appeal, the province will use the notwithstanding clause to protect school choice following a court decision that would force non-Catholic students out of Catholic schools and threaten funding to other faith-based schools.

NDP Supports Federal Carbon Tax

On the final day of the spring sitting, the same day the federal government announced details of their plan to impose a job-killing carbon tax on Saskatchewan people and businesses, the Saskatchewan NDP finally admitted that they would impose their own job-killing carbon tax on Saskatchewan.

In fact, the only candidate seeking to lead the Saskatchewan NDP has said “we applaud the federal government’s recent announcement of a minimum price on carbon.”

The plan put forward by Ottawa and supported by the NDP is harmful to Saskatchewan’s agriculture, mining and oil & gas sectors. Our government stands with Saskatchewan people who say no to a carbon tax that is dangerous for the economy and for working families across the province.

Provincial Parks Open For Summer

As the spring session comes to an end, Saskatchewan Provincial Parks officially open for the season. If you and your family are preparing for camping adventures or fishing trips, recreation and relaxation, it is important to note that it’s still early and a number of parks may have reduced services.

For example, some parks may be under a precautionary drinking water advisory as they prepare their water lines for the year. I encourage those visiting a Provincial Park in the coming days to check out http://www.saskparks.net/SpringCamping for an updated list of available services.

Saskatchewan Provincial Parks will be celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary with special programs throughout the season, including free day entry on Canada Day, July 1, and Canada’s Parks Day, July 15. Provincial Parks will also offer a 150-themed geocaching program.

In addition to the Canada 150 events, a wide range of popular programs and activities include Learn to Camp, Learn to Fish, interpretive activities and much more.

New Drinking & Driving Campaign From SGI

Earlier this week SGI launched a new version of its emotionally-charged multi-media awareness campaign showing the void left behind when a loved one is killed by an impaired driver.

The stock photographs used in the original campaign have been replaced with photos of real Saskatchewan people killed by impaired drivers. This new campaign highlights 12 lives cut short because of the senseless decision someone else made to drive impaired.

You can see the television ad and read more about the lives of the people featured at www.sgi.sk.ca/disappear. Our hope is that this campaign will prevent others from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one because of someone’s decision to drive impaired.

Strengthened laws for impaired driving took effect January 1, 2017 in Saskatchewan. Changes include the addition of a three-day vehicle seizure for experienced drivers caught for the first time with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04, increasing the age of zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol from under 19 to 21 and under, and making ignition interlock laws the strongest in Canada.

If you have a question about this Legislative Report or any other matter, just Contact Randy.

Past Legislative Reports