Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs calling for government to save bus service to First Nations

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs calling for government to save bus service to First Nations

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is calling on both the provincial and federal governments to step in as Greyhound Canada announces it is ending passenger and freight service in much of Western Canada, including Manitoba.

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas says the shutdown will have a negative impact on First Nations, especially in northern communities, which rely on Greyhound to get to urban areas for services including medical appointments.

“It is already well documented that our citizens have to ride the bus for hours, some longer than 14 hours, in order to see a doctor. How will they get access to adequate health care now?”

Greyhound Canada announced Monday afternoon it is ending its passenger bus and freight services in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and cancelling all but one route in B.C.

The changes take effect the end of October, which will make Ontario and Quebec the only regions where the familiar running-dog logo will continue to grace Canadian highways.

All Greyhound routes in Ontario and Quebec will continue to operate except for one: the Trans-Canada, which links a number of smaller communities between Winnipeg and Sudbury, Ont.

The company blames a 41 per cent decline in ridership since 2010, persistent competition from subsidized national and inter-regional passenger transportation services, the growth of new low-cost airlines, regulatory constraints and the growth of car ownership.

‘Health care is a treaty right’

Greyhound Canada senior vice-president Stuart Kendrick told the Canadian Press the company has raised concerns with provincial and federal officials over the years, and wanted to ensure both levels of government were “fully aware” of the situation.

Greyhound Canada has long advocated for a community funding model to allow any private carrier to bid on essential rural services, he said.

He said Greyhound Canada will continue to push Ottawa to look at improving transport in northern communities.

“I appreciate their efforts and I’d like to remind the Government of Canada that health care is a treaty right,” said Dumas.

“Distance from medical facilities can impact our citizens’ well-being, and with this announcement from Greyhound our patient navigators will have their work cut out for them.”

Greyhound Canada applied to provincial regulators last year to discontinue routes in northern B.C. from Prince George to Prince Rupert because of declining ridership, cancellations that went into effect June 1.

The issue of adequate transportation came up repeatedly during the ongoing inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, since one of the affected routes included the notorious stretch of Highway 16 in B.C. known as the Highway of Tears, where a number of women have gone missing.

Published at Mon, 09 Jul 2018 17:47:35 -0400