Letters to the editor: April 5, 2017

A new STC
I think we can all agree that the loss of the STC bus system, in the provincial budget, will leave a vulnerable group in our society without the ability to travel to urban medical appointments or travel within the province.
I fear that no matter how much we lobby the government, STC is not coming back. Therefore, I propose a replacement to STC to meet at least meet our minimum needs.
I propose a Provincial “Priority Bus” system.
This would be based on the model used by cities and town’s handicap bus services for years. People would call in and reserve a ride. This ride sharing service would shuttle people from rural Saskatchewan into the our cities and back again.
Priority would be given to people like seniors/pensioners, the disabled, low income folks, people living alone, people in home care, people without their own transportation or without people to give them a ride and the mentally ill.
An example of how it could be used would be for a medical specialist appointment in the city. These appointments are usually made far in advance, sometime weeks or months, and a coordinated reservation based ride sharing service would efficiently meet this need.
I believe we could acquire some buses and drivers from STC. And they could be  coordinated to serve almost ALL of Saskatchewan’s towns, villages and hamlets.
In January of this year Federal Funding of $190.3 million for home care and $158.5 million for mental health was negotiated with the Federal government. A Provincial  “Priority Bus” system would directly benefit the people who use home care or the mental health system.
Therefore, a Provincial “Priority Bus” system could be paid for by this new Federal funding not Provincial Money. Also, the buses would collect ticket fees which would be based on an ability to pay. This can be a win-win-win plan for taxpayers, the Province and bus users.
As a disabled Saskatchewanian, I want and need STC buses to run. If that is not in the cards, then the time is NOW to form a new not-for-profit community bus service. And let’s make that community, Saskatchewan wide.
Dave Favreau
Tisdale

A war between premiers
To the editor
In order to stop this frightening war between premiers Wall and Notley, we would like to propose that a Joint Premiers Office be created in the neutral city-state of Lloydminster.
This makes great sense as the city is situated in both provinces so would be fair and safe neutral territory to solve disputes and handle emergencies.
The two Premiers are acting very badly, in fact worse than many school yard bullies that we have seen.
Graciously,
Rory J. Koopmans
William Wade Izzard
Calgary
Selling Off Saskatchewan (Bit By Bit)

To the editor
For Sale!…The Sask. Transportation Company, the Sask. Grain Car Corporation and the Sask. Pastures Program. All have served the people of this province for decades, especially those who live in rural areas. All were owned by us. Shamefully, all have been scrapped in Brad Wall’s 2017 budget.
STC was created in 1946 – a crown corporation. For 70 years, it has served the people of Saskatchewan, and it has been a mainstay for rural and northern people. STC will now be privatized – the profitable intercity routes, that is. The rural routes will likely disappear.
The Saskatchewan Pastures Program gave farmers and ranchers access to 780,000 acres of crown land: “to maintain a healthy, diverse landscape, which is representative of the natural functional prairie ecosystems.” The privatization of these 50 pastures will end that history of public ownership and stewardship.
The Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation is our own fleet of 1000 grain cars. It was created in 1979 to help move grain to market, at a time when the country’s grain car fleet was obsolete and inadequate. It has served farmers ever since.
Its mandate: “In partnership with farmers, and community groups…to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of transporting and handling grain”. Another crown corporation. Privatized.
In a time of climate change, Brad Wall is selling off our only public transit company and our fleet of rail cars. And he is giving up stewardship over a valuable carbon sink – our prairie pastures and grasslands. To pay his government’s debts, he is selling off Saskatchewan, bit by bit.
Lon Borgerson
Prince Albert
Libraries feed hungry minds

Dear Editor,
Are you familiar with the award-winning children’s story The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Another story I heard could be called The Very Hungry Mind.
There was a 12-year-old in Regina who spotted a rare bird.  When interviewed, Nick Selinger sounded perplexed when asked how he knew it was a Eurasian Tree Sparrow.  He knew because his birding book confirmed his observations.
Like the hungry caterpillar, Nick had a hungry mind.  He became interested in owls after reading a fiction book.  He read all the owl books but he was still hungry.
He read all the raptor books but he was still hungry.  Then he started to read all the books about birds.  His local library and librarian had a central role in feeding his hungry mind.
As fields of knowledge grow, hungry minds begin to make connections that lead to innovations.
While we credit a particular innovation to a particular innovator, history shows that commonly others were making the same connections and the innovation was inevitable.
Libraries and librarians are organized to feeding hungry minds in a way the internet cannot. The Saskatchewan government cuts to libraries risks cutting innovations.
The low hanging fruits they thought they were harvesting are the seeds we need for future innovations.
Visit your local library or the Action Centre http://savesasklibraries.ca to learn how you can help reverse the cuts.

Nancy Carswell
Shellbrook, Saskatchewan