STC assets sold for $27.6 million as operations wind down

A bus leaves the STC Transportation Centre in Prince Albert for the final time on May 31, 2017, the organization’s last day of operations. -- Herald file photo.

The Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) is down to its last asset as the provincial government continues to wind down operations.

According to the 2017-18 STC annual report released on Friday, net proceeds from the sale of vehicles, equipment, land and buildings up to March 31 totaled $27.6 million, with a $22 million dividend. The final property up for sale is the Regina Maintenance Facility. According to Prince Albert Carlton MLA and Crown Investments Corporation Minister Joe Hargrave, negotiations for the building are currently underway.

Although the government was willing to release the total accumulated value of all STC sales, and Hargrave said he was confident taxpayers received good value for the old STC assets, however confidentiality agreements prevented the province from giving an asset-by-asset breakdown.

“In those businesses it’s highly competitive and people don’t want to reveal how much they underbid or overbid on any of those assets,” Hargrave told reporters during a media scrum on Friday. “It affects any future bids, not only with our government, but with other companies they deal with.”

Although the STC ceased operations on May 31, 2017, the company still required an $11.55 million operating grant from the Crown Investments Corporation (CIC). Most of the money went to severance costs after an arbitrator ruled in favour of an Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1374 grievance in May.

The provincial government did not appeal the ruling, which saw severance costs increase by more than $1 million to account for nine weeks lost salary and benefits, along with punitive damages.

Despite the increase, Hargrave said the CIC operating grant was still less than the estimated $17.1 million it would have cost to keep the STC running during the last fiscal year.

“Moving forward, the government will be able to put that money into other priorities,” he added.

According to figures released by the provincial government, STC ridership decreased from 800,000 annually in the early 1980s to less than 201,000 in 2015. The government expects the STC windup to end by March 2019.

In total, Saskatchewan’s crown corporations posted a net earning of $503 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year. That marked an increase of $104 million over the previous year, which Hargrave attributed to increased earnings from SaskPower, and the decrease in costs associated with the STC.

Crown investments delivered $205 million in dividends to the General Revenue Fund (GRF) in 2017-18. Over the past five years, CIC investments have contributed $1.3 billion in dividends.