Transportation and Works
Tourism, Culture and Recreation
December 19, 2007

Marine Atlantic Ferry Rate Increases Unacceptable to Provincial Government

Provincial Ministers of Transportation and Works, Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and Business are extremely disappointed over Marine Atlantic�s latest rate increases.

Marine Atlantic announced yesterday that ferry rates will be going up, 2.1 per cent on January 17, the result of its latest fuel surcharge. Additionally, Marine Atlantic will also bump rates on January 1 by 1.88 per cent, citing an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), but did not make a public announcement regarding this rate hike.

The Honourable Dianne Whalen, Minister of Transportation and Works, said the Federal Government must be held accountable for these rate increases.

"The Federal Government has given Marine Atlantic orders to recover at least 65 per cent of operating costs from the users of the service. This rate of cost recovery will lead to a continuous series of rate increases, and is not, in our view, at all in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Federal Government�s constitutional commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Whalen.

"We are calling on our federal Cabinet Minister and MPs to attend to this matter immediately, in the interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who rely so heavily on this essential service," said Minister Whalen.

The Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, said the increasing cost to travel to the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador via Marine Atlantic, is a threat to efforts to market this province as a travel destination.

"Our tourism marketing campaign continues to win awards and accolades, at both the national and international levels, and we have committed to spending an additional $1 million in marketing in 2008," Minister Jackman said. "The word is definitely out. People want to come here. So any time there is an increased cost to access a major portion of this province through the constitutionally-guaranteed, federally-operated ferry service, it runs counter to everything we are doing to grow this $840 million industry."

The Honourable Paul Oram, Minister of Business, says the service is vital to the province�s business community.

"The prospect of yet another increase in the cost of this service is troubling," said Minister Oram. "For businesses currently operating in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as for those interested in investing and locating here, stability in the cost of transportation is very important. Rather than adding to these costs, we have to work to eliminate constraints to doing business here."


Media contacts:

David Salter
Director of Communications
Department of Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 691-3577
Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
709-729-0928, 697-5061
Mark King
Director of Communications
Department of Business
709-729-7628, 699-3454

2007 12 19                                                              2:35 p.m.


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