|Conservative Budget fails to provide capital funding for VIA Rail
|CAW President Buzz Hargrove outlined his disappointment with the latest Stephen Harper government budget for failing to provide new capital funding for VIA
Rail. Hargrove highlighted the serious financial problems facing VIA in a March 22 letter he sent to Harper. CAW National Council 4000 represents all on-
board train personnel and off-board employees and customer service representatives with VIA Rail Canada. Here is the text of Hargrove’s letter:
March 22, 2007
Dear Mr. Harper,
“I am writing to express my extreme disappointment that your government has failed to introduce any new capital funding for VIA Rail in the 2007 Federal
Budget released on March 19th.
It is shocking to see that among the billions of dollars your government has allocated to deal with environmental concerns, funding for passenger rail
transportation – one of the most environmentally-friendly modes of transport – is nowhere to be found.
Our national passenger rail service is in serious financial trouble and it is incumbent on the Federal government to act quickly on this matter. The federal
government’s reluctance to provide any means of funding above the guaranteed $170 million operating subsidy has created a capital funding crisis for the
VIA is covering much of its capital funding shortfall by drawing down cash through its Asset Renewal Fund. According to company reports, this funding
mechanism will soon be exhausted leaving the corporation without any capital funds moving forward.
This threatens to destabilize passenger rail transportation in Canada and negatively impact the lives of millions of Canadians who rely on VIA Rail services.
The CAW has called on the Federal government to inject the necessary $800 million in capital funding to assist in modernizing VIA trains, upgrading
passenger stations and improving safety, reliability and on-time performance. As the only shareholder in VIA Rail, the federal government has a responsibility
to ensure the corporation is financially healthy and economically viable.
Canadians from coast to coast understand the importance of VIA Rail and are taking this funding crisis very seriously. Student groups, environmental activists,
workers, VIA Rail passengers and other stakeholders are raising their voices and speaking out on this issue.
On behalf of the 265,000 Canadian Auto Workers across the country, I urge you to act quickly on this matter. I look forward to meeting with Minister Cannon in
the coming week to discuss this issue further.”
Source: CAW Communications Dept.
Related: CAW VIA Rail Campaign