Nation to Nation
Greyhound announced this past summer it was cancelling almost all of its bus routes in Western Canada.
It’s a mode of transportation used by many First Nations, particularly in northern regions.
Since then 87 per cent of the affected routes have been met by other operators to provide service.
But has left a big hole for First Nations.
“This is something that is going to especially hit Indigenous populations and remote populations,” said Liberal MP Dan Vandal on Nation to Nation Thursday.
Vandal said the government has set up a long-term working group and found dedicated funding in the Indigenous Services budget to help entrepreneurs help fill that void.
“We’re looking at all alternatives right now,” said Vandal. “It’s not going to be easy but we are committed to that.”
He said the onus providing bus services has been on the provinces since the 1950s and Ottawa hopes they continue to take a part in solving the problem.
But NDP MP Georgina Jolibois said it should never have come to this.
“The Liberal government knew about this problem months ago and yet they were slow on acting,” said Jolibois, the former mayor of La Loche, Sask. “How much longer are Indigenous people going to wait?”
While all the talk has been about moving people everyone is forgetting about freight said Conservative MP Kevin Waugh.
“Yes, we need to get people to and from their communities but freight is going to be the big problem,” said Waugh. “Freight is big.”
He said Greyhound was also moving parcels and other deliveries to northern First Nations like in Saskatchewan where he is from.
“They were the big connection to northern communities,” said Waugh. “Now I’m really worried who is going to take that freight.”
He said the companies that are trying to fill the void are doing so with mini-buses that can’t carry the same load.
Citing poor economic returns, Greyhound eliminated its service in northern B.C. in May. In July, it announced its complete withdrawal of passenger and freight service in Western Canada and parts of Ontario, effective Oct. 31.
Waugh was also critical of the Trudeau government that announced Wednesday of its plan to help fill the 13 per cent of routes still without a viable operator.
“So here it is on the 18th hour, on the 31st of October, the last day for Greyhound they roll out their plan,” he said. “All the gabs are not filled.”
But he also said in some areas the ridership isn’t there.
“It’s just not economical,” said Waugh.
-with files from the Canadian Press