A recent court challenge of the federal government subsidy to Marine Atlantic hits at the very core of sustainability for consumers and travellers to our province. Dictated by geography, most consumer goods must travel by sea to reach the island. Marine Atlantic currently ships up to 50 percent of those goods using its fleet of four vessels. Thousands of Newfoundland families and visitors also use these ships on an annual basis. Without the federal subsidy, the cost for goods currently shipped by Marine Atlantic, and the level of service offered by Marine Atlantic, will suffer.
Products such as fruits, vegetables, meat, medical supplies, building materials and other essential items arrive daily on the gulf ferries. If the costs to bring these products to the island increases to retailers, costs will increase for consumers. Consumers in Newfoundland pay more now for many of these goods than mainland Canadians. Remember the shock of $8 cauliflower? That price was with the subsidy.
It is an economic reality that geopolitical factors, a combination of geography and politics, have a significant impact driving the price of food and other goods up. The average Newfoundland family is already struggling with increased costs in a climate of economic uncertainty. Compounding this is the looming reality of escalating hydro costs in the very near future. If the subsidy for Marine Atlantic goes, grocers will absorb the increase in freight costs and redistribute the excess out to consumers. That is also an economic reality.
Newfoundland has a constitutional right to the ferry service. It is also a right of all Canadians to have a national transportation system at affordable level. Without the current subsidy to Marine Atlantic the viability and effectiveness of this service is in jeopardy.
Please express your concerns to our MHAs, MPs and others who need to get the message to Ottawa. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians cannot afford to pay more for the essential ferry service provided by Marine Atlantic.
John Spencer, Mayor
Per Town Council of Channel – Port aux Basques