Northern Communities deserve answers about Highway of Tears shuttle bus

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For Immediate Release

March 6, 2014

VICTORIA— Northern women deserve to know whether or not the B.C. Liberals intend to listen to the Missing Women’s Inquiry and bring in a shuttle bus along the Highway of Tears says North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice.

“If the B.C. Liberals have no plans to bring in safe, accessible transportation along the Highway of Tears, they need to be honest with communities and simply say so,” said Rice.

In the legislature the New Democrat MLA asked the Minister of Justice “will the B.C. government bring in a shuttle along the Highway of Tears, yes or no?”

Instead of answering the minister quibbled about the term shuttle bus, saying “Commissioner Oppal’s report suggested that government develop and implement an enhanced public transit system to provide a safer travel option, connecting the northern communities, particularly along Highway 16. The word ‘shuttle bus’ was not used.”

“People in Northern communities don’t care whether the B.C. Liberals call it public transportation or a shuttle bus, what they want is to know whether or not the government plans to provide safe, accessible and reliable transportation so that women and girls don’t have to hitchhike to get where they need to go,” said Rice.

“Many First Nations communities have no public transportation at all. Many are hours off the highway, with zero amenities – no doctor’s offices, no grocery stores, and no access to the key services people across the province take for granted. Instead of putting up billboards blaming women and girls in these communities for hitchhiking – we need to give them a better option.”

The Missing Women’s Inquiry endorsed all of the recommendations made by the Highway of Tears symposium that was held in Prince George in 2006, including the call for a shuttle bus. In his 2012 report Commissioner Oppal singled out the need for public transportation along the highway as an urgent recommendation that should be implemented immediately.

The B.C. Liberals accepted the recommendations made by the Missing Women’s Inquiry, but since then, they have failed to take significant action on many of them.

“Communities, advocates and First Nations have been calling for safe, accessible transportation along the Highway of Tears for the last 8 years,” said Rice. “We deserve a straight-forward answer from the government – will they follow the recommendations of the Missing Women’s Inquiry and bring in a bus, or not? It’s a simple question.”

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