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This article was published 26/9/2018 (513 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have rejected the Pallister government’s request that Ottawa pay Greyhound to keep operating in Western Canada beyond the firm’s planned pullout in five weeks.
"Greyhound is leaving the scene on Oct. 31," Transport Minister Marc Garneau told the Free Press on Wednesday. "There will be gaps and so we are addressing those and looking at them, and working with the provinces."
Greyhound announced in early July its intention to end bus service between British Columbia and northern Ontario on Halloween, except for the Vancouver-Seattle route.
A week later, Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler proposed Ottawa ask Greyhound to extend service by at least 60 days, to allow other businesses to fill the cancelled routes. He said Ottawa should foot the bill for that extension, if greyhound demanded one.
Schuler said his counterparts in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario agreed with that idea, and Premier Brian Pallister raised the idea at the premiers meeting last summer.
Garneau said Wednesday that option is now off the table. "We looked at this extensively, and I will say that we haven’t left any stones unturned."
Schuler wrote in an email that Ottawa should do more to address the situation.
"It is unfortunate that Greyhound is pulling out of our province, and it is disappointing that the federal government is not taking more action to slow down this process," he said,
He added that he's "encouraged" the private sector is mobilizing to fill gaps.
Provincial regulations gave Greyhound a monopoly on the busiest routes, which was contingent on the firm serving some of the least populated ones.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and public health advocates have expressed alarm about routes that the private sector won’t take up, cutting off those who need affordable transportation for health services. Officials with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has also asked Ottawa to intervene.
Conservative MP James Bezan said he hasn’t received a lot of correspondence about the issue from his Interlake constituents, but said the Liberals have "probably the worst timing" in leaving Manitobans with no sense of what direction Ottawa will take five weeks before service ends.
"You cannot leave these things until last minute; you have to have the opportunity for people who are being impacted, as well as the businesses, a chance to transition," he said.
Tory MP Larry Maguire said he’s confident business can step up in the province, but he’d "expect more information at this point."
Garneau said he’ll go public once Ottawa and the provinces agree on a plan. "As soon as we come to land on a plan, we will be making that public — but we’re very conscious of Oct. 31," he said.