Greyhound will cease its passenger and freight services in provinces west of Ontario in the fall, leaving those without vehicles in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan with few options.
Creighton and Denare Beach residents were dealt a similar blow in May 2017 when the Saskatchewan Transportation Company ceased service, but come Oct. 31, there could be absolutely no road-travel connection from our area to other areas of Manitoba or Saskatchewan.
News spread quickly across the western provinces about the plan to end service, and it seems to be the average person from small town Canada who will suffer once the closure hits.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs released a statement regarding the end of the service, noting it will have a negative impact on First Nations in the affected provinces.
Grand Chief Arlen Dumas spoke about how many First Nations communities in Manitoba do not have adequate medical services, and residents of those communities rely on bus service, sometimes travelling up to 14 hours to larger centres for medical appointments.
Without a bus service, the looming question is how residents of these communities are supposed to be able to access adequate health care.
Residents of Flin Flon who have relied on the bus to get to appointments in Winnipeg are surely asking similar questions.
And while some people have relied on bus service only for medical reasons, it has served as a link to other areas in the province for many community members. For some post-secondary students, it’s their way home to visit family during the holidays. For others, it’s a way to connect for business. For those without a vehicle, it may be the only practical, cost-effective service that lets them head out of town.
And then there’s the issue of mail.
Packages are often shipped to Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach via bus freight service, ordered by both local businesses as well as those who do some of their shopping online (shopping local is so important, but there are times when a search through town leaves a shopper empty-handed). Without the service, there’s little known about if and how those packages will still arrive on northern doorsteps.
Business decisions are rarely personal – they’re about the bottom line, and Greyhound has said the northern and rural routes in the western provinces were simply no longer sustainable.
Be that as it may, the end of bus service to Flin Flon and northern Manitoba will certainly be felt on a personal level.