Sask. gov’t authority upheld to close bus company

Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench has dismissed a request for an injunction against the provincial government’s decision to shut down Saskatchewan Transportation Corp.

Justice Lian Schwann said the government was within its authority to wind down the bus company.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1374, which represents in-scope employees, had asked the court for a judicial review of the March 22 budget announcement, saying it was essentially privatization.

The government argued that winding up the corporation is not privatization because the assets were not being transferred and no one was buying the entire company.

STC was established in 1946 and became a crown corporation in 1993.

According to court documents it earned money until 1975, with the exception of 1953-54, and in 1977-78 and 78-79. Since then it has lost money every year.

The loss in 2015-16 was more than $13 million.

When the government announced its decision, it said subsidy levels were unsustainable and only two routes were profitable.

Freight service was discontinued May 19 and passenger service ends May 31.

However, the union said that STC provided a public service, particularly to low-income passengers, and that bus service is critical for rural communities.

Greyhound Canada has partnered with a courier to begin freight service, and private operators have stepped forward in some communities to offer passenger service.

In a written decision released May 26, Schwann pointed out that funding decisions are a government responsibility.

“As a matter of law and constitutional principle, a decision respecting the disbursement of public funds is within the authority of the legislature alone and is not justiciable,” she said.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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