TORONTO, Jan. 25, 2012 /CNW/ - CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on
the federal government and the Coast Guard to stop a shortsighted plan
to cut servicing hours for Marine Communications and Traffic Services
personnel who provide critical distress and safety services on Canadian
The Canadian Coast Guard's proposal is to gut servicing hours at 11 of
its 22 active stations located in Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Comox
and Prince Rupert, British Columbia; Sarnia, Ontario; Quebec City and
Les Escoumins, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia;
and St. John's, Newfoundland.
Lewenza called this a reckless cost-cutting measure that puts lives at
"This situation offers a glimpse into how blindly the Harper government
is approaching austerity measures," Lewenza said. "Harper's own
security and energy policies are putting greater pressures on the Coast
Guard to monitor our waters, yet the government is trying to reduce
services in this exact area. It doesn't make sense."
Marine Communications and Traffic Services officers are often the first
point of contact for distressed mariners, fishers, recreational
boaters, kayakers, and others in coastal waters. MCTS also manages
marine vessel traffic flows, which covers everything from detecting
unmarked foreign vessels to preventing possible environmental damage
through tanker collisions and spills. MCTS centres handle over 7,000
marine search and rescue cases each year.
The full roll-out of the Coast Guard's cost-cutting plan is set to begin
on February 1, although a partial program was rolled out at the
beginning of the year. This month-long "dry run" has already resulted
in one urgent call from a distressed vessel being missed at one MCTS
centre that has reduced servicing hours. Fortunately, the location of
the vessel was such that a neighbouring MCTS centre was able to pick up
CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire, who represents over 350 MCTS
officers, said he was disappointed in the public remarks made recently
by Keith Ashfield, Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (published
in the Comox Valley Echo), who considered this an effort to put "the proper resources in place
when and where they need to be available."
"To suggest that the Coast Guard can adequately schedule service hours
well in advance of a crisis is simply absurd," Grégoire said. "The
whole point is to ensure that we're fully prepared to deal with any
situation, no matter how big or small, at all times."
SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
For further information:
CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire (418-564-2047) (for English or French language); or Angelo DiCaro, CAW Communications (416) 606-6311