STC not coming back — even as gov't repeals Bill 40, minister says

As the province reverses another major decision, one Cabinet minister is adamant the Saskatchewan Transportation Company will not be resurrected.

Bill 40, a privatization bill, does not apply to STC as bus company was scrapped

The STC has nothing to do with repealing Bill 40, as the company was scrapped — not privatized, Minister Joe Hargrave said. (Peter Mills/CBC)

As the Saskatchewan government reverses another major decision, one cabinet minister says the Saskatchewan Transportation Company will not be resurrected. 

The Crown corporation was scrapped in the March 22 provincial budget, with the government highlighting its declining ridership and high costs — about $17 million a year.

"It's not a public service — it's a service to people," Joe Hargrave, minister of multiple Crown corporations, told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition on Wednesday. 

"People chose by not riding on the bus." 

Hargrave said the reversals made to libraries, funeral costs and Bill 40 show the province is listening to the public. (CBC)

Premier Brad Wall announced on Tuesday that the province was repealing its controversial Bill 40, a bill that said a Crown corporation was not considered privatized if the government still owned 51 per cent of it.

As the news broke, groups and people opposed to the provincial budget cuts hoped more decisions might be reversed, such as cuts to health care, education and the scrapping of STC. 

However, Hargrave said Bill 40's repeal will not affect the government's decision on STC, as it was scrapped and not privatized. 

Province is listening, Hargrave says

Hargrave said the province heard the concerns residents relayed to their MLAs on Bill 40. 

It certainly does give the appearance of a government that has lost its way.- Ken Rasmussen, professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

The way the province saw it, the bill was about the long-term future of the Crowns and the jobs it would create, Hargrave said. 

"We had thought that we weren't actually going to sell the Crowns; what we were looking to do was strengthen the Crowns," he said. 

"I do think that shows some strength — that we are willing to listen to what the people of Saskatchewan are saying." 

The province had earlier walked back on cuts to funding for libraries and covering funeral costs for people on social assistance. 

'Embarrassing series of back-downs'

Ken Rasmussen, a professor at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, was highly critical of the government, calling Bill 40's reversal "another in a series of really embarrassing back-downs" from the last legislative session. 

Rasmussen said the government's reversals are signs that if they are pressured by the public and opposition to cuts, the province will respond. 

"It certainly does give the appearance of a government that has lost its way."

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition