OTTAWA, June 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Recent news stories have reported that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has declared 976 lighthouses across Canada to be surplus and will begin the process of decommissioning or transferring these lighthouses to local governments and/or community organizations.
"Lighthouses are more than historical and community landmarks, says Christine Collins, National President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE). Lighthouses are a critical part of our maritime navigational safety system."
At the present time, 51 of the light stations in Newfoundland and British Columbia are staffed by lightkeepers. Lightkeepers on these two coasts play multiple roles, including assisting fishing vessels, ferries and small airplanes with vital localized marine weather reports and conditions; with search and rescue; with scientific research, with environmental response monitoring and other public safety functions. Lightkeepers and the light stations also represent Canada and are an important expression of our sovereignty over remote coasts. Good lights, horns and light-keepers prevent maritime accidents and crises and prevent expensive search and rescue operations.
Although none of these staffed lighthouses are on the list issued by DFO, this news is unsettling in that it sends a message, states the UCTE President. "We are concerned that this is just the beginning and that the next step in the government's intentions will be the staffed lighthouses."
"We urge maritime communities across Canada to fight back in opposition to the government's intentions, concluded Christine Collins.
The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) is a Component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). UCTE represents the union for aviation, marine and rail technical inspectors working for Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board.
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