Newspaper article The Canadian Press

No Injunction to Stop Government Shut Down of Saskatchewan Bus Company: Court

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

No Injunction to Stop Government Shut Down of Saskatchewan Bus Company: Court

Article excerpt

No court injunction to stop STC shut down

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REGINA - A Court of Queen's Bench judge says the Saskatchewan government has the authority to shut down the provincial bus company at the end of May.

Justice Lian Schwann has dismissed an application from the union that represents Saskatchewan Transportation Company workers for an injunction to stop the government from shutting down the Crown-owned bus service.

"Funding decisions concerning the allocation of public financial resources fall within the policy-making function of the government as a whole," Schwann wrote in the ruling released Friday.

"These sorts of decisions are of a political nature and considered immune from judicial review."

Schwann said "there is no statutory provision or other legal instrument which mandates STC to continue to operate in perpetuity."

The judge also said the decision to wind up STC and sell its assets does not meet the definition of privatization because it's a wind-up of operations, not a sale to the private sector.

"There is no evidence before this court of a plan to transfer STC's business operation or controlling interest to the private sector," Schwann wrote.

"To the contrary, the steps taken thus far manifest a dismantling of STC's operation but not a divestiture of its assets or transfer of operations."

The Saskatchewan government announced in the March budget that it would close STC as part of an effort to tackle a $1.3 billion deficit.

The ruling notes that in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, STC reported a net loss of $13 million. It said the combination of fewer riders with cost increases has reached the point where the STC subsidy on a per passenger basis is forecast to be $94 this year, up from $25 just 10 years ago.

The government has said STC would need $85 million over the next five years to keep operating.

The Amalgamated Transit Union had argued that the government didn't follow the Crown Corporations Act when the closure was announced and that the closure would have an immediate and dramatic harmful effect on the employees and their families. …

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