The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association wants federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel to intervene in hikes to Marine Atlantic ferry rates.
But in an email response to The Telegram for comment, Lebel’s office said Marine Atlantic is arm’s length from the service’s day-to-day business.
“As a Crown corporation, Marine Atlantic is arm’s-length from the Government of Canada and is responsible for its own operations, including fare structures,” said press secretary Pierre Floréa.
Fees for commercial trucks are to increase four per cent, another $50 per load on drop trailers which represents a 24 per cent increase and a $3.50 security fee.
Extension of national highway
The new fees, which take effect Feb. 13, don’t give the trucking industry time to analyze what the fees will do to operating costs, the association said in a letter to Lebel.
“Marine Atlantic’s ferry system is an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, which means it should be kept at a reasonable cost and competitive to other modes of transportation for commercial goods,” association’s executive director Jean‐Marc Picard wrote Lebel.
“This increase will not only impact some carrier’s ability to continue to serve this market, but they will lose customers and potentially their businesses. They can’t possibly pass these fees on to their customers as they have another option to move their goods to Newfoundland. The trucking industry is Marine Atlantic’s largest customer and without us, the government wouldn’t be able to justify or sustain a ferry service to the province of Newfoundland.”
Picard said the issue will have huge repercussions on the economy in Atlantic Canada and trucking firms.
“This issue needs to be addressed immediately; such increases are unheard of and irrational. No company can possibly merit a 24 per cent increase and Marine Atlantic’s management team should have enough experience and education to run an efficient ferry system without imposing these kinds of increase to their largest customers. Here we are with a big mess on our hands,” Picard said.