Canadian Built Marine Atlantic Ferries Needed

December 5, 2009, 10:30 AM EST

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The federal government must provide adequate funding to federal crown corporation Marine Atlantic so that a made in Canada replacement program for its aging fleet of ferries is immediately launched.

An emergency resolution was approved December 5 by CAW Council delegates stressing that shipyards such as the Marystown Shipyard in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Halifax Shipyard in Nova Scotia build ferries for this vital service.

CAW Locals 4285 and 4286 represent approximately 700 workers at Marine Atlantic, which provides year round ferry service between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Marine Atlantic provides a constitutionally mandated passenger and commercial marine transportation system between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Delegates heard about the leasing of inappropriate foreign-built vessels such as the MV Atlantic Vision, originally built as a cruise ship and converted into a ferry. It was not designed and isn't capable of providing the increased capacity necessary for this vital service.

The resolution highlights that any attempt by Transport Canada and the federal government to lease or purchase vessels from outside Canada to replace the present fleet of ferries must be stopped.

The Auditor General's Report (Marine Atlantic Inc. Special Examination Report - 2009) clearly states that a long-term funding plan has to be established for Marine Atlantic to ensure it meets its mandate of maintaining this critical transportation link.

CAW Atlantic Canada director Les Holloway urged delegates to go back to their locals and highlight the importance of building ships in Canada, which means jobs for Canadians and a stronger economy.

Wayne Butler, President of CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 20, in Marystown, Newfoundland, said the shipbuilding industry is a crucial part of the local economy. He said the current fleet of Marine Atlantic ferries should have been replaced 10 years ago.

"There is a need for the federal government to build these ships in Canada," Butler said.

Mavis Grist, President of CAW Local 4285, stressed the importance of the CAW's campaign and the need build these vessels in Canada.

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