Hughes raises transportation concerns at Minister’s consultation meeting

Ottawa – Transportation links that service northern and rural communities cannot be treated as an afterthought by the government according to Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, MP carol Hughes.

Hughes raised these concerns at a consultation meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport as she pointed  out  that the department’s focus on transportation has been geared towards urban centres at the expense of more isolated communities.

“The government has plans for transportation in urban settings, but some of the most pressing needs are actually in smaller communities, “said Hughes. “Many of these places are no longer serviced by buses or trains and the trend to reduced or lost service isn’t showing any sign of reversing.”

Hughes mentioned the plight of individuals, businesses, and even those providing or accessing health care services in rural and northern settings to illustrate how a lack of investment and leadership coupled with lost services from buses and trains is creating a patchwork that shuts out many parts of Canada.

“Businesses and medical service providers that relied on buses to transport goods and lab samples have lost that option,” said Hughes.  “Lost services also unfairly impact seniors, Indigenous communities, and those who don’t have access to a vehicle.”

Hughes raised issues and impacts that stem from the cessation of Greyhound service to many communities. Other topics of discussion included Pilot shortage and Marine Pilotage.

“The shortfalls in many parts of Canada underline the need for a comprehensive National Transportation Strategy,” said Hughes.  “That would include passenger train service such as the Bear Train that the Missanabie Cree First Nation and the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains and are working toward that would return passenger services between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst.

Hughes reminded Transport Canada officials of their mandate to serve the public interest through promotion of a safe and secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada. She also advised the government that they have a role to play in ensuring rural and northern transportation options are viable.

“They need to remember they have a responsibility to all Canadians,” said Hughes.  “Right now that doesn’t seem to be their focus.”