NAPE leader says ‘think local’

Andrew Robinson
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Suggests money spent on Nonia best used on new, N.L.-made ferry

The provincial government announced last week it will decommission the Nonia. — Telegram file photo

The president of the union that represents provincial ferry workers says the province’s decision to decommission the Nonia swing vessel shows the government needs to invest in new ferries.

“That’s a prime example of the costs that you can incur when you try to cut corners,” said Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees.

The vessel was purchased in 1999 for $1.2 million by the then-Liberal government under the leadership of Brian Tobin. The province estimates it has spent $19 million to keep the boat in service, including the purchase cost.

The provincial government said Friday that repairs to keep the Nonia in service now would cost an additional $9 million. The vessel was built in 1986.

Furlong suggests that instead of spending tens of millions of dollars to keep old vessels in service, the province should have a new vessel built in a local shipyard and create jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador.


“That’s just been a money pit since they bought it,” Furlong said of the Nonia.

The province issued requests for proposals in recent months for two new vessels — a 42-metre swing vessel and an 80-metre vessel to replace the Capt. Earl W. Winsor.

On Sunday, Transportation and Works Minister Paul Davis told The Telegram the decommissioning of the Nonia and the retrofit for the Beaumont Hamel resulted in 30-40 layoffs. Workers for the Nonia were laid off in July. It is currently in dry dock.

Furlong said those workers will pursue whatever options are available to them under the terms of the collective agreement. Those options could include a move to exercise bumping rights. That would then require workers to consider moving elsewhere.

“The reality is, these are vessels that are throughout the province,” said Furlong.

She believed there were still three people employed in relation to the Nonia.

Davis told The Telegram Sunday that a ship’s captain and engineer are not typically laid off when a ferry undergoes a retrofit.

The 10-week retrofit for the Beaumont Hamel — one of two ferries that serves Bell Island — was scheduled to begin Monday. It will then take over ferry service from Farewell to Change Islands and Fogo Island. The vessel typically responsible for that run, the Capt. Earl W. Winsor, will then undergo a retrofit.

According to government figures, $82 million was spent in 2012 to operate the provincial ferry service. Revenue from ferry user fees was $5 million.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew


Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees.The, LAID-OFF WORKERS

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Bell Island, Change Islands Fogo Island

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Recent comments

  • mom
    February 20, 2013 - 06:28

    I live in a small community where I pay property tax, water and sewer tax. I, also, pay income tax. I rent an apartment elsewhere to be near work and I work full time. I am tired of people trying to get rid of outport and island communities. St. John's is not that great! It is important to keep our heritage alive. In the rest of Canada there are lots of small communities both near major cities and out in the middle of nowhere. Only in Newfoundland do I see anyone complaining about trying to get rid of those communities. I live on the island of Newfoundland and I support those who choose to live on the smaller islands around the province.

    February 19, 2013 - 11:49

    Here here Tom, great post and right to the point, I like it! It's time that government take a real hard look at diposing of the ferry services altoghether. It's just a big hole in the water to throw our money in. And out of all these small isolated island communites, just how many are gainfully employed or are we paying their living expenses as well? Offer them a house for house, a new pickup, ATV and a chainsaw plus moving expenses and get them the hell off of these islands. The province would realize savingts in the tens of millions of dollars! It's 2013 not 1913, time for the province to clean up it's act. Seriously, how can we move forward if all we do is look back?? Modern towns and cities in other parts of the country who are light years ahead of this province, didn't get there by hugging old buildings and refusing to move from great great grandpappy's land!

  • Don
    February 19, 2013 - 11:28

    Hey Tom, this province would be a much better place if we stood behind our nabouring towns and people rather then always attempting to knock them down. Why not close off the norther pen at the deer lake turn off then we wouldnt have to pay for those towns up there which by the way st anthony is the largest but would warrant being shut down because of the other smaller ones. Come on people Joey is still turning in his grave over what they forced on people back then and no Gov of the day is going to go near the resettlement word so lets speak up for better service and ferrys for these beautiful islands and all rural towns that make up this province.

  • Proud Bell Islander
    February 19, 2013 - 10:26

    This is for Tom and the rest of you citys boys out there, you always talk about resettle these communities, no proplem, give me $400,000.00 and i be gone tomorow, case closed

  • tom
    February 19, 2013 - 07:23

    5 million in fees recovered from 82 million in cost. Either charge users what it actually costs to use the service or move the small communities that are causing the expense. 82 million is just the ferry costs, I am willing to bet that all the other mandatory services provided to these small communities probably add up to 5 time more again. You figure out the tax base that these small communities generate and the rest of the province is subsidising them in the 10’s of millions, if not hundreds of millions. Smallwood started moving these places, and it is time we finished moving them. A onetime buy out of their houses, and stores, and if refused, stop taxing and stop subsidising. You don’t take the deal, the rest of us cut you off. That is the problem with NL. Too many small places, not paying their fair share of tax to cover the cost of service. Eliminate the small communities, I don’t mean all of them, just the ones that require a ferry or is so far off the beaten path that the taxes they pay do not cover the actual cost of services provided, then move them. I think it is ridiculous that there are still places on the coast that have only a handful of people and we are paying for ferries to drop stuff to them. MOVE.