Boater Safety Shouldn't Be Compromised for Austerity Budgets

Ottawa – The closure of nearly half of Canada’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres amounts to an unnecessary risk for boaters on Lakes Huron and Superior according to Carol Hughes.

The MP for Algoma –Manitoulin-Kapuskasing grilled the government on the closure of the Thunder Bay Centre in parliament last night, stating the minimal cost-cutting measure could have dire consequences.

“The government claims it is a move to modernize marine communications, but boaters are concerned for their safety under the new system,” said Hughes. “It is a theoretical solution to something that wasn’t a problem.”

Hughes related the story of a man who has relied on the Thunder Bay station on three separate occasions.  She felt that the voices of people who use the services are missing from the debate.  

She also raised concerns about the increased workload for Coast Guard employees in Sarnia who will take responsibility for the all of Lake Superior, Lake Huron and the St. Mary’s River to a busy workload. Currently there are no plans to add personnel to support the increase in responsibility for the Sarnia Centre.

“There will only be two operators dealing with all marine incidents from all of Lake Superior, through to and including much of Lake Erie,” said Hughes.  “Now they are going to add the 391 incidents that the Thunder Bay station dealt with.”

Hughes also questioned the move to new and untested computer consoles for operators who monitor marine radio signals.  She notes we are abandoning a time-tested system that is working well.

“It is important that everyone understands, we are walking away from a good system that saves lives to an untested one just to save a few bucks,” said Hughes.