With an estimated 3,000 of their 12,000 monthly visitors relying on buses in order to access their services, the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre has announced plans to offer temporary, limited hamper delivery service for those in need of assistance until the transit lockout is lifted.
Planned to be operated entirely on a volunteer basis, hamper delivery will be scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons with the potential to stretch beyond those days if demand calls for it. Volunteers are encouraged to contact the
Food Bank if they would like to assist in the delivery process.
Laurie O’Connor, executive director of the Saskatoon Food Bank, said in an Oct. 6 press release that hamper delivery for everyone interested will likely not be possible.
“This service will be based upon critical and individual needs and available volunteer resources,” O’Connor said. “With the numbers we are facing, we may not be able to meet the needs of every caller, but we feel strongly that we have a responsibility to try our best to respond to our community’s struggles during this time.”
Saskatoon buses have been suspended since Sept. 20, when city officials put a lockout into effect. The city and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615, which represents Saskatoon Transit Services, have been in an ongoing dispute over wages and pension which the latter group believes to be unfair, with neither willing to budge on the matter. As of press time, the lockout continues to be in effect.
Plans have been put in place to bring the matter to the labour board on Oct. 14 and “prove to the citizens of Saskatoon that this lockout is not legal,” according to an ATU press release.
In the meanwhile, the City of Saskatoon has said that it will provide a refund to those who have been affected by the suspension.
Available monetarily through debit, cheque or as a one month extension, the refund is being offered to any transit user who holds a valid transit pass.
The refunds will be available through many locations including city hall, the downtown transit customer service centre and six of Saskatoon’s leisure centres.
An additional $20,000 is being set aside for advertising purposes in order to raise awareness of the refund for the public.
University of Saskatchewan undergraduates will not be affected by the city’s refund since the U of S Students’ Union elected to withhold payment for U-Pass services from transit. However, all university employees holding an EcoPass will be eligible.
The USSU has not announced any plans for a refund to U of S undergraduates as of press time, though president Max FineDay has been vocal on the problems students have been facing in light of the transit lockout.
Community members unable to access the Saskatoon Food Bank’s food basket program due to the transit dispute can call the Main Office at (306) 664-6565 and ask for Delphine Snakeskin, office manager. Volunteers interested in assisting with deliveries can call Rehanna Ahlstedt, volunteer coordinator, at (306) 664-6565 ext. 228.