A group of Marine Atlantic workers and residents protested near the Port aux Basques ferry terminal Wednesday over cuts to the federal Crown owned service.
The protestors are making an issue of recent reductions in the summer ferry schedule. That’s just the start of the impact of the shrunken schedule.
Residents of this province have come to expect that use of the ferry connection between Newfoundland and the mainland increases yearly. That is not the case and usage is down — and no wonder.
The federal government is required by law to provide a water link under the Terms of Union that saw this province join Canada, but apparently it doesn’t require a service that is dependable and affordable.
Between the yearly ticket increases and never-ending fuel charges, it’s becoming too costly for tourists to come to our province by ferry.
In recent years, visitors have opted to fly to our province, rent a vehicle and tour that way. That is obviously cutting into Marine Atlantic’s business. Rather than improve the experience to attract more use, Marine Atlantic is cutting crossing and making the system less convenient. It sounds like a repeat of the loss of the railway across Newfoundland.
Those running the trains brought about a self-fulfilling result — they increased costs and cut service to a point where few businesses used the trains to move their goods.The lack of use was then used as a reason to stop running the trains.
It’s time that the government of this province started fighting for a connection across the Gulf that we in this province deserve.
If that means taking the federal government to court over the Terms of Union, so be it. Better to fight this slow, steady degrading of the ferry system now than sit back and have it die by a thousand cuts — and a thousand more ticket price hikes.
This isn’t a trivial matter where Ottawa can shave a few million dollars to make its budget and federal politicians look good in the eyes of voters.