Hundreds of protesters chanted and sang in front of the Saskatoon bus terminal Friday afternoon in hopes that the Saskatchewan government will reconsider its decision to close down its bus service.
“People in this province are very, very hurt and upset about what’s going on,” Cindy Hanson, the rally’s organizer, said after the demonstration Friday.
Last week, the province announced plans to shut down the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) as a measure to reduce its budget deficit. Officials said declining ridership had forced the government to cover more of the company’s costs.
“Every year, ten to eleven million dollars was being expended to subsidize STC,” Saskatchewan Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said at the time of the announcement.
However, many of the roughly 400 protesters Friday contended the service was essential for many across the province. Hanson commented that the bus service cut “hits on so many levels.”
“It hits people who are medical patients … it hits people who are concerned about the environment, it hits working families, it hits people who are involved in unions,” Hanson said.
“It especially hits low-income people.”
The rally featured speeches from Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich and JoAnn Jaffe, a 25-year STC rider who uses the service to consistently get to and from Regina.
“I am 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,” Jaffe said.
Jaffe said she is cautiously optimistic that the decision would be reversed.