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Ministers welcome Marine Atlantic advisory committee

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- Tom Rideout, Minister of Transportation and Works, and Paul Shelley, Minister of Tourism, Cult...

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. — Tom Rideout, Minister of Transportation and Works, and Paul Shelley, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation welcomed the establishment of an advisory committee to examine the future of Marine Atlantic.

“Government welcomes this week’s announcement on the future of the gulf ferry service. Our government has sent a strong and consistent message to the federal government that it has a constitutional obligation to Newfoundland and Labrador to provide this ferry service at rates that are not economically prohibitive to its users,” said Rideout.

The advisory committee’s objective of identifying long-term strategies for the service is in keeping with our government’s goal of developing long-term solutions for the province’s economy, said Rideout.

“The gulf ferry service is our highway to mainland Canada and there are many industries and stakeholders within the province that are dependant on this service," he said.

The ferry service provided by Marine Atlantic is both a significant transportation and economic enabler as approximately 65 per cent of goods transported to the island portion of the province are carried by this service and many of our exports are shipped to their markets by this service.

Shelley said that research carried out by government indicates that cost and accessibility are major factors which influence a traveler’s decision to visit a destination.

“The gulf ferry service is an essential part of our transportation system, as declared by the Canada Industrial and Relations Board, and provides a mode of transportation for about 40 per cent of non-resident visitors to the province,” said Shelley. “An increase in ferry rates has contributed to a decrease in the overall passengers traveling on Marine Atlantic in recent years. I am concerned about this impact on our tourism industry and welcome the new advisory committee which I believe will identify issues with the current service and recommend ways to address these issues.”

Government especially welcomes the review of pricing strategies.

"In a letter I sent to Minister Lapierre yesterday, I have asked that he hold off on any planned rate increases until this review is completed. I have previously made my federal and Atlantic counterparts aware that any increase in rates would be a detriment to the residents of the province, as well as local industries. That continues to be our position,” said Rideout.

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