Province may step in if STC closure causes unintended side effects: Doherty

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Kevin Doherty speaks at a Chamber of Commerce event at the Prince Albert Inn on March 24, 2017. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The province would be prepared to step in if the dissolution of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company has unintended side effects, the provincial finance minister has said.

Minister Kevin Doherty confirmed the province would act should it need to while speaking with reporters after delivering a speech about the budget in Prince Albert on March 24.

In the March 22 budget, the Saskatchewan Party announced they would wind down STC, and it would cease operations by the end of May. The move is expected to save $85 million over five years.

Doherty defended the decision in his prepared remarks, and while answering a question about the loss of the parcel delivery service.

“STC has only been able to continue operating with a large annual taxpayer subsidy that has been getting larger every year. Given other priorities in our core services, of health care, education, social services and infrastructure, the STC model had simply become unsustainable.”

Since announcing the change, seniors advocates, including the Prince Albert Seniors Advocacy Centre, have expressed fears patients relying on the service to attend specialist appointment in Saskatoon will no longer be able to access care.

Others have expressed fears that the decision could lead to a higher crime rate in P.A. Currently, once a prisoner has finished serving his or her sentence, they are sent back to their home community on the STC.

Without that service, some fear those people could end up wandering the streets of P.A. homeless and without income, increasing their chances of reoffending.

Should the government use other means to get former prisoners home, the cost of transporting those prisoners could skyrocket.

Doherty said the province would “absolutely” step in should those problems arrive.

“As we identify those kinds of concerns, if there’s an opportunity to do something to alleviate those concerns, we’ll take a look at that,” he said to reporters Friday.

For more on this story, please see the March 25 print or e-edition of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.