TORONTO, Feb. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - The federal government must prevent Marine
Atlantic from imposing unreasonable shipping rate increases, in order
to protect the affordability of food for citizens of Newfoundland and
Labrador, says Retail Council of Canada (RCC).
"Marine Atlantic recently announced shipping rate increases that will
cost grocers anywhere from $250,000 to $400,000 more each year to ship
produce and other fresh food from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and
Labrador," said David Wilkes, Sr. V.P. Grocery, RCC. "The federal
government must act to prevent these increases, as Marine Atlantic is
the only game in town in terms of quickly shipping any food requiring
refrigeration, and inevitably these excessive shipping fees will be
reflected in higher food prices."
Twice daily, Marine Atlantic ships out of North Sydney, Cape Breton and
arrives at the west coast of Newfoundland in Port Aux Basques, after a
nine hour sail. To ensure that their merchandise gets on the ship,
grocers have to pay a premium of $400-$500 per trailer. In the last few
years, the fuel surcharge has increased from 13.8 per cent to 21 per
cent of the fare.
The main concern for grocers is the "drop-trailer fee" which Marine
Atlantic charges to load and unload the truck trailers at the dock.
Marine Atlantic has full authority to set its own fees. The drop trailer
management fee is currently $210 and will rise to $260 each way on
"There is no reasonable justification for this increase - the federal
government must intervene," said Wilkes. "Marine Atlantic has stated
that they have always operated at a loss but the federal government is
now demanding that the corporation find additional savings and
efficiencies," continued Wilkes.
"Increasing drop trailer fees is simply a strategy for Marine Atlantic
to increase its revenue on the backs of grocers and the backs of
grocery shoppers in Newfoundland & Labrador," concluded Wilkes.
The only other shipper who provides service to Newfoundland and Labrador
is Oceanex which ships out of Halifax twice a week. Oceanex currently does not have
adequate refrigeration capabilities to get produce to Halifax, so
grocers cannot use Oceanex to ship fresh food.
"Marine Atlantic is effectively a monopoly," Wilkes added, adding the
government must protect the interests of the people of Newfoundland and
Labrador by ending these unnecessary and unjustifiable increases by
"When the cost of doing business rises at an unreasonable rate, this
prohibitive effect eventually trickles down to consumers, which is not
what grocers want. They want to provide consumers in Newfoundland and
Labrador with fresh food that is affordable."
SOURCE Retail Council of Canada
For further information:
Director, Atlantic Canada
Toll free: (855) 422-4144