Highway of Tears safety investments highlight dangers of Sask. Party cuts: NDP

As people across the country celebrate National Aboriginal Day, Nicole Sarauer, the newly-elected Leader of the Official Opposition called on the Sask. Party to stop the harmful cuts that are hurting Indigenous peoples. 

Sarauer noted that, after nearly a decade of lobbying by the affected First Nations, British Colombia is investing  millions of dollars in a Highway of Tears transportation safety plan and, earlier this week, the first routes along the ‘Highway of Tears’ began providing full time service. By contrast, this spring, less than a year after the then Minister Responsible for STC said that the service was, “safe” and that it was “business as usual,” the Sask. Party scrapped STC.

“BC is working to address the tragedies that have given the Highway of Tears its name so there is no excuse for the Sask. Party to move in the opposite direction,” Sarauer said. “Students, elders and vulnerable women are at risk of being left stranded. To improve public safety, we should be making more rural transportation available – not less.”

Saskatchewan First Nations leaders have criticized the dismantling of STC, saying it isolates vulnerable people with few transportation options for medical appointments and could result in more people in vulnerable or dangerous situations hitchhiking in the absence of other options. In 2015, 61.7 per cent of riders were women and 71.6 per cent of riders were low income.

“From scrapping STC to cutting student retention programs and refusing to make good on their promise to apologise for the Sixties scoop, the Sask. Party have implemented some incredibly harmful cuts that will hurt Indigenous communities,” Sarauer said. “In the spirit of National Aboriginal Day, the Sask. Party should admit their mistakes, reverse these harmful cuts, and take crucial steps toward reconciliation.”