Government of Canada extends eastern ferry services

December 2, 2010

The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway; the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for Central Nova; and the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Member of Parliament for Egmont, Prince Edward Island, today announced an investment to extend ferry services in Eastern Canada.

 

"The Government of Canada understands the importance of these ferry services to the local communities and economy," said Minister Strahl. "In addition to providing safe and effective transportation to remote communities, the investments announced today will go a long way in supporting the regional economy and transportation network in Eastern Canada."

 

The investment will allow for continued ferry services between Saint John, New Brunswick, and Digby, Nova Scotia, and between Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island, and Caribou, Nova Scotia, to March 31, 2014. It will also support a year-round ferry service between Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, and Souris, Prince Edward Island, for four years beginning in 2011, which includes support for a two-month extension of service during February and March.

 

"Our government's continued support for ferry services in New Brunswick strengthens our region's economic future," said Minister Ashfield. "Sustaining Atlantic ferry services is important to developing key economic generators for our region - our transport, trade and tourism industries will all benefit from this investment."

 

"The Northumberland Ferries serve as a vital link between eastern provinces," said Minister MacKay. "Our government knows the importance of this service and I'm proud those who depend on these ferries for safe and effective transportation to remote communities will continue to be served."

 

"The Northumberland ferry service is a vital link between P.E.I. and N.S., and contributes significantly to the economic sustainability of our region by promoting employment and business opportunities for the people of P.E.I.," said Minister Shea.

 

In support of these three ferry services, Transport Canada owns four vessels and six ferry facilities that are leased to the private operators for a nominal amount. The existing agreements for these ferry services were set to expire on March 31, 2011.

 

Transport Canada is committed to working with the provinces and local communities on a long-term approach to these ferry services.

 

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Contacts:
John Babcock
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa
613-991-0700

 

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055

 

 

BACKGROUNDER

EASTERN CANADA FERRY SERVICES SUPPORTED BY TRANSPORT CANADA

 

The Government of Canada is investing up to $44.7 million to:

 

  • extend the Saint John, New Brunswick (N.B.) - Digby, Nova Scotia (N.S.) ferry service for an additional three years (April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2014);
  • extend the Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) - Caribou, N.S., ferry service for an additional three years (April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2014); and
  • support a year-round ferry service between Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, and Souris, P.E.I., for four years beginning in 2011, which includes support for a two-month extension of the service during February and March.

 

This funding will be used to support ferry operations and maintain the ferry assets. The Canadian Coast Guard is also providing icebreaking services worth $6 million to facilitate safe and reliable crossings.

 

In support of these three ferry services, Transport Canada (TC) owns four vessels and six ferry facilities that are leased to the private operators for a nominal amount. Policy and/or program authority for these ferry services was set to expire on March 31, 2011.

 

The Government of Canada is committed to engaging Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and the local communities to develop a long-term approach to these ferry services.

 

Saint John, N.B. - Digby, N.S., Ferry Service

Formerly operated by Marine Atlantic Inc., this ferry service was commercialized in 1997 to Bay Ferries Ltd., a private operator, in accordance with the National Marine Policy. Bay Ferries operated with federal support from 1997 to 2002. In 2006, the operator announced that it would be terminating the service, as it was no longer financially viable.

Since 2006, the federal government has provided a total of $15.1 million to the private operator to support this ferry service, along with $4 million each from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

 

The ferry service is expected to generate regional economic benefits* totalling approximately $73 million over the three-year extension period due to tourism spending, reduced transportation costs, time savings, and employment by the operator and other expenditures to support the ferry service.

 

Wood Islands, P.E.I. - Caribou, N.S., Ferry Service

The federal government has been providing support for the ferry service between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S., since 1941. The service is provided by Northumberland Ferries Ltd. (NFL), a private ferry operator, for eight months of the year (May to December) and uses two of TC's vessels. Since 2005-06, TC has provided nearly $41 million to the operator.

 

The ferry service is expected to generate approximately $81 million in benefits for the local and regional economy* over the three-year extension period, largely due to tourism spending, time savings, and employment by the operators and other expenditures to support the ferry services.

 

Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. - Souris, P.E.I., Ferry Service

The federal government has been providing support for the ferry service between Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Souris since 1971. This service, which is operated by CTMA Traversier Ltée, is normally provided for 10 months of the year (April to January), closing for two months (February and March), given the challenges of operating TC's vessel in heavy ice conditions. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, TC supported two short-term extensions of the ferry service in February and March using the operator's own ice class vessel. Since 2005-06, TC has provided nearly $40 million to the private operator (including $3.8 million for an extended winter service in 2008-09 and 2009-10).

 

The extended winter ferry service is expected to generate nearly $12 million in socioeconomic benefits* for the community and local businesses, mostly due to reduced transportation and business costs, and increased employment.

* As per independent assessment.

 

OTHER INVESTMENTS IN THE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

In addition to federal spending on these ferry services, TC has made significant investments in the regional transportation system, including:

 

  • $226 million announced since 2005-06 for the highway and road network in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island;
  • $274.8 million in federal support for the Confederation Bridge; and
  • $77 million for regional air and other marine transportation services and facilities

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