Greens raising alarm on rapid erosion of public transportation across Canada

January 25, 2021

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is deeply concerned about ongoing cuts in Canada’s transportation sector that are creating havoc for communities and regions across the country and leaving Canadians with seriously diminished travel options.

“Across Canada ground transportation is in crisis,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “VIA Rail is suspended and struggling due to COVID, regular intercity bus service disappeared for much of the country years before COVID. Many communities and the tourism sector depend on coach bus companies like Maritime Bus and Wilson’s on Vancouver Island. We call on governments both federally and provincially to make it clear to the banks, that as they continue to make exorbitant profits, we expect them to do their part for our economy and our communities.”

Air Canada began cutting routes to Sydney, N.S. in December 2020, and by mid-January cut flight routes to Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Rupert and Kamloops in B.C., Fredericton and Saint John, N.B. and Yellowknife, N.W.T.

“The fact that airlines are offering vacation destinations while cutting essential services to east and west coast communities is troubling,” said Green MP Jenica Atwin (Fredericton). “Their priorities are flawed. Regional routes are crucial, and need to be maintained. I understand that the pandemic has had a severe impact on airline revenue, but something must be done to safeguard these routes.”

“Air Canada does not just move passengers, it also moves a lot of critical cargo including medical supplies to regional airports,” said Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith). “Services are being cut all across the north as well as in the Maritimes, leaving these communities essentially without fundamental service.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, rail and bus routes have also endured significant cutbacks. Greyhound Canada completely suspended all routes in May 2020, leaving many Canadians in remote communities with few transportation alternatives. In October, Via Rail suspended service to the Maritimes indefinitely and has reduced service in other regional corridors.

“Maritime Bus has announced cutting services across the region impacting the ability of Maritimers to remain connected to one another and to the rest of the country,” said Atwin. “These services are at risk of permanent collapse without immediate federal assistance.”

Mr. Manly observed that cutting vital transportation routes is dangerous for women, particularly Indigenous women. “We must never forget the horrific tragedies that occurred on the ‘Highway of Tears’,” he said. “That 725 kilometre corridor of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert was where so many Indigenous women were murdered or disappeared. Lack of public transportation infrastructure in that region left these women vulnerable.”

“People in rural areas are being left stranded,” concluded Ms. May. “We simply cannot leave Canadians living in remote communities without access to safe, reliable transportation.”

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Rosie Emery

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