The BC Ferry Coalition (BCFC) thanks Doug Hockley for raising the important and confusing issue of federal funding for BC Ferries.
He noted in a letter published in Coast Reporter March 21 that the federal government funds East Coast ferries at a disproportionately higher percentage than BC Ferries. We previously looked into this issue and continue to do so.
On Feb. 6, area member of Parliament John Weston set up a telephonic meeting with Minister of Transportation Lisa Raitt. Along with a representative of the BCFC, present at the meeting were local mayors, including Sechelt's John Henderson, regional representatives, including Sunshine Coast Regional District board chair Garry Nohr, members of Chambers of Commerce and other local representatives. Ms. Raitt indicated BC Ferries is a provincial responsibility, aside from the annual federal subsidy. A binding subsidy agreement was signed in 1977 by the federal government and B.C. In exchange for a subsidy of $8 million annually (with future payments adjusted to Vancouver Consumer Price Index), B.C. agreed to take over responsibility for running and servicing the ferries.
In contrast, the East Coast ferries subsidy is controlled by the Ferry Services Contribution Program (FSCP). The FSCP provides financial assistance to maintain three inter-provincial ferry services in Atlantic Canada and Eastern Quebec.
The FSCP expired March 31, 2014 and future federal subsidies are expected to dramatically decline.
Mr. Hockley also notes the federal government's subsidy of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. The federal government has a constitutional obligation to provide a transportation link between PEI and the mainland and thus subsidizes the bridge to PEI. The BC Ferry Coalition is determined to tackle the BC Ferries issue from all possible avenues and at this time they all lead directly to the provincial government.
Ric Bills, BC Ferry Coalition
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