On Sun., Nov. 5, we had our first snow storm of the 2013 - 2014 season. This may be the first, but as we all know this will not be the last.
Imagine you are a medical patient in long term therapy with a scheduled treatment on Mon., Nov. 6. Your life saving treatments are not available locally so your only options are to travel to either Saskatoon, or Regina. Not only will you have to have to add one or more hours to your drive, which is four to five hours one way (in good weather from our house), you will now face the added stress of ice, drifting snow, and a wind chill that can be life threatening. The ever increasing heavy truck traffic, especially on Highway 37, creates even more layers of stress, making a treacherous drive in severe winter weather all the more hazardous.
If you are a medical patient in Shaunavon for example, you can now catch the STC bus at 7 o'clock in the morning with a reasonably priced medi-pass, reaching Regina around noon, where a pre-arranged volunteer can take you to the treatment centre from the Regina bus station. After January 1st, 2014 your only option will be to drive your vehicle, assuming you have a vehicle, or are able to drive, as our only bus service is scheduled to be eliminated by the Province on that day.
I don't know what the royalties are that continuously flows into the provincial treasury from the booming Southwest, but I can imagine it is quite substantial. So surprised was I to read in the Provincial Governments own literature that $576 million, yes $576 million has been budgeted for highways and infrastructure this year. Eliminating our only bus service to save a paltry $140,000 in subsidies is difficult for me to understand given its critical role in connecting our communities. This is especially true for our seniors, patients with a medical pass, and the disabled. The modest $140,000 subsidy is actually an exceptionally good value considering the breadth of services the STC provides, making this cost a very small sum in the overall expense of maintaining the Province’s highways and infrastructure.
If our government follows through with their commitment to eliminate the STC on January 1st, 2014, life for many people who have contributed so much to the prosperity and quality of life in our rural communities will now be facing unprecedented new hardships under circumstance that are often challenging to begin with. The towns that will have their STC scheduled bus service terminated at the beginning of next year are Eastend, Shaunavon, Scotsguard, Admiral, Cadillac, Ponteix, Aneroid, Hazenmore, Kincaid, Meyronne, Woodrow, Palmer, and Mazenod.
Kent Tate - Shaunavon