Provincial and Federal Governments Must Help Secure Northern Rail Lines, CAW says

April 12, 2010, 8:57 AM EST


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Rail infrastructure is too important to the economic and social well being of Northern Ontario to be either abandoned or underfunded and the CAW is joining with North Bay Council in calling for provincial and federal assistance.

A recent motion by North Bay council calling on the provincial and federal governments to rescue Northern Ontario rail lines from possible closure by Canadian Pacific highlights a major concern facing northern communities and workers.

Canadian Pacific is either actively looking or is expected to begin searching for operators to lease a number of key rail lines in Ontario's northeast. These include lines running between Smith Falls and Sudbury, Petawawa and Mattawa and between Temiscaming and Sudbury.

"The provincial government should mandate its own railway, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC) to play a larger role in the region by providing it with the tools to expand into the areas that are now threatened by abandonment," said Brian Kelly, Ontario Northland General Chairpersons' Association spokesperson.

"The ONTC has played a huge role in developing the northeast (of Ontario) and we are certain it can do the same in other regions of the north. It is the only long term solution that can truly deal with this crisis," said Kelly, also President of CAW Local 103.

Tom Murphy, president of CAW Local 101 representing 2,700 CP rail workers, said a national rail system was key to the founding of a strong, united country that linked communities from coast to coast, including many smaller, isolated and remote communities.

"A national rail system remains critical to the continued economic development of Canada and especially smaller communities," said Murphy. "Government has a critical role to play in maintaining strong, vibrant rail links from coast-to-coast. Municipal governments in Northern Ontario have long recognized this and provincial and federal governments need to follow suit."

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