Concerns over cuts in provincial budget grow louder for Sask. residents
Mark Villani, CTV Saskatoon
Published Friday, March 31, 2017 6:23PM CST
More than 400 people took to the streets of Saskatoon on Friday, asking Premier Brad Wall to reverse big cuts to the provincial budget.
A rally against the province’s decision to shut down the Saskatchewan Transportation Company took place at Saskatoon’s downtown STC depot.
Many protestors linked arms around the depot to show their support for the service, including JoAnn Jaffe.
Jaffe has been riding the STC bus from Regina to Saskatoon for 25 years, but that’s about to change.
“I have no idea what I’m going to do,” Jaffe said.
“We’ll go into a colder Winter, gas prices will go up, and people will be back on the bus. It’s a little bit short sighted to get rid of the bus just because you’ve had ridership go down, the need is still there.”
The Saskatchewan government made the decision to pull funding for the STC and end its services, citing a decline in ridership and rising costs.
“What is the purpose of the provincial government in the sense of what are the core services the tax payers expect from them?”said Finance Minister Kevin Doherty
“It’s not necessarily running a bus company.”
The STC busses across the province will make their final stops on May 31.
A total of 224 people will lose their jobs, but it’s not just riders and employees who are concerned about the recent budget cuts.
A second Saskatoon rally on Friday saw about 100 members of the Service Employees International Union march to Saskatoon’s cabinet building to send their message.
The union represents more than 13,000 working people in Saskatchewan, including members who work in health care, education, municipalities, and community-based organizations.
SEIU president Barbara Cape said there’s concern over a 6.7 per cent cut to Saskatchewan’s education budget, along with the amalgamation of province’s 12 health regions to a single authority.
“This can fundamentally change how people access health-care service,” Cape said.
“One of the things we did note pretty dramatically is that there’s really no connection between the health-care services that we enjoy and access to rural and remote communities.”
In a world of what the Saskatchewan Party is calling ‘transformational change,’ protestors put pen to paper, signing petition after petition to ask Premier Brad Wall to reverse the cuts.
For Jaffre, she hopes those cuts are made soon.
“I’m hoping that Brad Wall and the Sask. Party will be big enough people to actually step back and say we made a mistake and we’re actually re-establishing the service,” she said.
At this point, the provincial government is standing firm on its budget decisions, but those affected by them hope their voices will at least be heard at the Saskatchewan legislature.