OTTAWA— Unifor welcomes Green Party MP Elizabeth May’s private members’ bill VIA Rail Canada Act (C-236).
“This bill alone won’t solve all the challenges VIA Rail is facing,” said Scott Doherty, Unifor’s lead rail negotiator and Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President. “However it’s a long overdue step in the right direction and establishes a foundation and necessary building blocks that we can use to improve public passenger rail service in Canada.”
May’s private members bill would establish a legislative framework and mandate for VIA Rail in order to strengthen access to safe, reliable and efficient public passenger rail service for Canadians.
“Canadians deserve strong public passenger rail service from coast to coast to coast. We urge MPs from all parties to support this important bill. The federal government needs to show leadership and invest in building a passenger rail network and infrastructure for the 21st century,” says Doherty.
Even though VIA Rail is a crown corporation established in 1977, there has never been any associated legislation regarding its mandate in providing passenger rail service in Canada, including areas such as governance and financing. Countries, such as the U.S. and UK, have legislation that mandates the function of their national passenger rail services.
“We can’t allow VIA Rail operations to suffer. The bill needs the support of all political parties,” continued Doherty.
There have been at least five attempts to pass this type of legislation in Parliament since 2003, by the NDP, Greens and Liberals. Yet none were able to get far in the legislative process.
Unifor Council 4000 and Local 100 represents more than 2,000 maintenance workers, on-board service personnel, chefs, sales agents and customer service staff at VIA Rail.
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