Judy Foote says decisions being made by Marine Atlantic are letting the federal government off the hook when it comes to living up to its responsibility to provide the people of Newfoundland and Labrador with a vital link to the rest of our country.
“Marine Atlantic has increased fares and reduced ferry crossings, actions that not only limit access, but can only have a negative impact on the province’s economy as well,” said Foote, the MP for Random-Burin-St. George’s in a prepared statement.
“I am concerned the situation will only get worse unless immediate action is taken to reverse these harmful fare hikes and service reductions.”
Foote believes there is a correlation between an increase in fares and fewer reservations.
“An 11 per cent rate increase over three years has to have a negative impact when people consider travelling to and from our province, and it certainly must have an impact on those businesses which use the service to export and import goods,” she said.
“Not only is the tourism industry being negatively impacted, but the entire provincial economy will suffer.”
Foote said Marine Atlantic attributes recent service cuts and staff layoffs to a 10 per cent decrease in commercial traffic from last year, but thinks it would be interesting to see where else Marine Atlantic looked to make up the shortfall in revenue other than increasing fares and cutting ferry crossings.
Foote recognizes that Marine Atlantic has been the target of funding cuts by the Harper government, but wonders why the Crown corporation has not been more vocal in its objection to the Conservatives’ slash and burn approach.
“After the Harper government cut a combined $16.3 million from Marine Atlantic’s annual operating budget in 2011 and 2012, it would appear Marine Atlantic chose to raise its fares to comply with the governments’ expectation for the corporation to achieve a cost recovery target of between 60 and 65 per cent,” said Foote.