Clock is Ticking for Ontario Tourism Jobs: Fight Over Responsibility for Port Repairs Threatens to Sink Ferry’s Season

Ottawa – Ontario tourism jobs are at risk because the Conservative government wants to offload responsibility for the maintenance of federal port facilities onto the province, according to New Democrat MP, Olivia Chow.

Chow, the Official Opposition critic for Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities, grilled the government over legal wrangling that threatens a large part of the Lake Huron tourism economy during Question Period.

“The Chi Cheemaun is the anchor for a multi-million dollar tourism economy on Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula, but tomorrow it won’t begin its season,” said Chow. “The Conservative’s won’t do the work to make the ferry’s terminals safe.”

The Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC) stated this week that extreme and persistent low water levels have made the use of Transport Canada owned ferry berths at Tobermory and Owen Sound unsafe. They have delayed the start of the season until the work is done and cannot perform the maintenance on facilities they do not own.

“While they fight Ontario over who should pay the 300 thousand dollars for updates, hard-working entrepreneurs are caught in the middle,” said Chow. “Why won’t the government spend a few bucks to protect jobs and businesses instead of wasting it on lawyers?” Chow asked the Minister of Transport in the House of Commons today.

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP, Carol Hughes says Chow’s question cuts to the heart of the matter.

“We have a government who waste millions of tax dollars doing partisan advertising, while it does nothing to meet their obligations,” said Hughes. “I call on the Federal government to quickly do the fender work and dredging so that $35 million of economic activity on Manitoulin Island won't go down the drain this year."