CAW encouraged by new public funding for VIA Rail

    TORONTO, Oct. 11 /CNW/ - The Canadian Auto Workers union is encouraged by
the Federal government's decision to inject nearly $700 million into VIA's
budget. The government announced today an additional $516 million in capital
funding that will help pay for refurbished locomotives, station upgrades, and
infrastructure improvement in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. Additionally,
the government has also announced an increase of $175.9 million directed
towards VIA Rail's operating costs over the next 5 years.
    Union officials considered today's announcement delivered by Lawrence
Cannon, Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a much-needed boost to the finances of
Canada's passenger rail service, which has been struggling from a severe
budget shortfall over the last years.
    In 2006, the CAW launched a national campaign to bring attention to VIA's
funding crisis. The union collected over 50,000 signed campaign cards that
were delivered to Minister Cannon at a meeting in March and organized a series
of rallies in cities throughout the country.
    According to CAW National President Buzz Hargrove, today's announcement
signals that the federal government understands the importance of a
well-funded, environmentally friendly, national public rail system and
considers the funding decision welcome news.
    "This funding is a lifeline for VIA Rail services that was desperately
needed," said Hargrove. "Minister Cannon and the Federal government have done
well to ensure that Canada's public rail system is fully funded now and for
the future."
    In the wake of a devastating manufacturing jobs crisis in Canada,
Hargrove is optimistic that the new locomotive and equipment purchases will be
a boon to workers who manufacture rolling stock in London and Thunder Bay,
    "This announcement not only benefits the over 3,000 CAW members at VIA
Rail, but could also provide an example of how purchasing Canadian-made
products can be used to maintain and create jobs in the Canadian Economy,"
said Hargrove.
    Union leadership believe that this announcement will help further boost
the positive relationship that has developed over time with officials at VIA
Rail, following the recent successful contract negotiations that took place
over the summer.
    Hargrove says that the union is committed to working with the membership
and VIA Rail to provide excellent passenger service to Canadians in all
communities for years to come.

For further information:

For further information: Bob Chernecki, Assistant to the CAW National
President (cell: (416) 543-7084); or Angelo DiCaro, CAW Communications (cell:
(416) 606-6311)

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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