VANCOUVER, BC – With the federal election under way, ferry operators are looking for the next government to address two important priorities that will benefit fare payers and tax payers throughout the country.
The Canadian Ferry Operators Association (CFOA) has identified two issues being of key importance for the sector. The first is about tariffs for the import of passenger vessels under 129 metres in length. The second is related to the ability for ferry operators to access infrastructure funding.
Tariffs on the import of passenger vessels under 129 metres were maintained despite being lifted by the late Finance Minister, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, on most other types of vessels in 2010. The initial reason to maintain these tariffs was to protect the Canadian shipbuilding industry. However, most shipyards are now unable to respond to ferry operators’ needs as they concentrate on the federal government National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, the association said.
“Keeping the tariffs in place limits competition, innovation and ends up driving costs for Canadian fare payers and tax payers,” said Serge Buy, CFOA’s CEO.
Further to this, any existing and new infrastructure funding mechanism should respect the regional diversity in this country and allow provincial governments to develop their own eligibility criteria. This would avoid any further limitation on the ability for the ferry sector to access funding, said CFOA.
“Crucial infrastructure projects throughout the country are unable to presently qualify under the Building Canada Plan. This needs to change in the future,” said Buy.
Over 55 million passengers and 19 million vehicles travelled on ferries in 2013. CFOA said it represents this essential part of Canada’s transportation infrastructure by providing access to remote communities, enabling hundreds of thousands of Canadians to get to work, transport passengers and goods to various regions from coast to coast.