Two pink flags, one says SCFP, the other says CUPEThe Prince Albert & District Community Service Centre Inc. (CSC) has announced that without additional financial support to cover growing inflationary pressures, they will be forced to eliminate evening and weekend paratransit services.

Workers at CSC, members of CUPE 2182, are speaking out about the cuts.

“These cuts will impact the lives of those CSC serves,” said Mark Krayetski, president of CUPE 2182. “Evening services and weekend transportation services play a crucial role in enabling seniors and individuals with disabilities to participate in various aspects of community life, such as sporting events, entertainment activities, social gatherings, and shopping.”

The services provided by CSC are in high demand. In 2023 alone, the number of rides provided surged to 37,145 marking a notable increase of 11,405 rides compared to the previous year. Despite this growth, annual funding from the city has not increased since 2021. With the rising cost of gas and fleet maintenance, CSC is seeking an additional $103,521.00 to cover operating evening and weekend services.

“A hundred thousand dollars is a drop in the bucket for a City Council that approved an extra $700,000 for the architectural design of a new arena,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Budgets are about choices, and the City of Prince Albert is choosing to make the city less accessible for seniors and people with disabilities.”

If the shortfall persists, CSC will have to eliminate an estimated 4,137 evening and weekend rides, in addition to significantly reducing daytime weekday trips. These cuts would have profound and far-reaching implications, exacerbating the isolation and limited mobility experienced by individuals with disabilities.

CUPE is urgently calling upon the City of Prince Albert to recognize the critical importance of paratransit services and to provide the necessary funding to ensure their continuation. Failure to address this funding shortfall will not only deprive vulnerable members of the community of essential transportation but also undermine the city’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.