North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice said billboards along Highway 16 telling women not to hitchhike are a "cruel joke" because there are limited or no public transit options.
"Communities along the Highway of Tears have spoken. They want a shuttle bus to ensure women and girls have safe, accessible transportation," Rice said Thursday morning during question period in Victoria. "Perhaps [Justice Minister Suzanne Anton] doesn't understand that there is absolutely no public transportation whatsoever for many of these communities."
Rice was asking for the government to commit to providing shuttle bus service along the Highway of Tears in response to a recommendation in Wally Oppal's 2012 commission into missing and murdered women that called for finding ways to make travel along the Highway of Tears safer. Dozens of women have gone missing along Highway 16 in northern B.C. over the past few decades, many of whom were murdered and some who have yet to be found.
Anton replied that the Oppal report didn't specifically call for a shuttle bus service and that her government is working with communities to find safer transportation options for those who can't use traditional means to get from one community to another in northern B.C.
"Certainly, the tragedy of women missing along northern highways - in particular Highway 16, because there were many along Highway 16 - is a tragedy that must not be repeated," Anton said. "The collaboration with northern communities on transportation is something that government is working on and continuing with, because it is from communities that these solutions will be arrived at, working between government and local communities."