Does Terminating STC Violate the Canada Labour Code?

March 28th, 2017

Saskatchewan’s New Democratic MPs are concerned that the Sask. Party’s mass termination of Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) workers may violate the Canada Labour Code and that the federal budget shortchanged Saskatchewan on transit funding.

“Last week’s provincial and federal budgets both threw Saskatchewan under the bus,” said Regina–Lewvan MP Erin Weir. “The provincial budget eliminated needed bus service by axing STC while the federal budget allocated Saskatchewan only half our per-capita share of transit funding.”

Although STC is a provincial Crown corporation, inter-provincial transport is subject to federal labour legislation.

“The Canada Labour Code clearly requires the employer to provide at least 16 weeks’ notice for a mass termination of 50 or more employees,” said Saskatoon West MP and NDP labour critic Sheri Benson. “The provincial budget suggests terminating 224 STC employees in just 10 weeks at the end of May.”

Provincial legislation prohibits the privatization of STC and other major Crown corporations without a referendum. It is unclear how the Saskatchewan government can sell off STC’s assets without holding a referendum or breaking its own law.

“The loss of STC service will further isolate northern communities,” said Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River MP Georgina Jolibois. “While private bus companies may take over profitable routes between the main population centres, they are unlikely to provide service to northern Saskatchewan.”

“STC was never meant to turn a profit – it connects Saskatchewanians to each other, and to the services they need,” added Benson. “It should not be sacrificed in the name of the government’s bad fiscal management.”

The federal budget allocated $20.1 billion in funding for transit based on a formula of 30% population versus 70% ridership. Because Saskatchewan has 3.2% of Canada’s population but only 0.86% of current ridership, our province will receive less than 1.6% of federal transit funding.

“Weighting funding based on existing ridership favours large metropolitan centres that already have extensive transit systems,” said Weir. “The federal government should give equal priority to expanding transit in cities like Regina and Saskatoon.”

Saskatchewan’s per-capita share of $20.1 billion in transit funding would be about $640 million. The federal government’s formula will provide closer to $320 million.

“The slanted allocation of federal transit funding will shortchange Saskatchewan by about $320 million, which dwarfs the $85 million the provincial government says it will save by axing STC,” concluded Weir. “Rather than pushing for a fair share of federal transit funding, Premier Brad Wall seems content to cut services for Saskatchewan people.”