Coast guard still preparing to close radio base despite latest radio outage

VICTORIA, April 29, 2016 /CNW/ - The Canadian Coast Guard is not budging from its plans to close Marine Communication and Traffic Services (MCTS) center Comox despite a massive radio outage that began Thursday evening affecting the entire west coast of Vancouver Island.

"Minister Hunter Tootoo must intervene now before a mariner pays the ultimate price for the coast guard leadership's incompetence," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Frontline officers have been warning MPs and bureaucrats about serious operational problems for months, but our warnings are being ignored and outages continue."

The ongoing outage originated in the MCTS centre in Prince Rupert, which is responsible for monitoring marine communications from Alaska to Washington State. During the outage, eight remote control radio transmitters on the west coast of Vancouver Island could only operate intermittently. If the Comox centre's closure is allowed to proceed on May 10 despite the protest of frontline coast guard officers, there will be fewer back ups in cases of emergency.

By monitoring traffic, MCTS centres are the first line of defense for mariners in distress or when an ecological disaster strikes. Over the last two years 9 of the 22 MCTS Centres were closed without consulting industry, mariners, the public, or coast guard officers.

"It shouldn't take a tanker spill or a missed mayday call before Minister Tootoo wakes up to the implications of cuts to the marine safety network," said Joie Warnock, Unifor's Western Director.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.


For further information: please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at 778-903-6549 (cell) or

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