Extension of Magdalen Islands ferry service during the 2009 winter season

    OTTAWA, Jan. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, says that the government will
look at the possibility of year-round ferry service between the Magdalen
Islands and the mainland in 2009, in response to a request from the
municipality of Magdalen Islands.
    "I'm working towards establishing a winter link pilot project in 2009,"
said Minister Cannon. "I recognize the important role of the ferry for the
municipality and its economy. However, as mentioned at our last meeting with
the municipality, the existing ferry services program does not have the
necessary funds for year-round service."
    The results of the consultations and analyses in the fall of 2007 show
that year-round ferry service would have positive socio-economic and cultural
impacts on the community, in the form of more transportation options for
people and shorter delivery times for goods, in particular perishables.
    The existing ferry services program does not have the funds necessary to
extend the service this year. We believe that the community and shippers
should be informed well in advance, so that they can work together to ensure
the sustainable development of the proposed winter link.
    Transport Canada has invested over $11.4 million over the past five years
in this ferry service. Two new marine terminals have been built at a cost of
$2.5 million, and the MV Madeleine has been upgraded at a cost of $4.6 million
in 2006.
    CTMA Traversier Ltd. has operated the ferry between the Magdalen Islands
and Prince Edward Island since 1971, in accordance with criteria set by
Transport Canada. The marine terminals and the MV Madeleine belong to
Transport Canada and are made available to the operator under a contribution
agreement that is renewable every five years.
    Service is provided ten months a year, during the ice-free season from
early April to late January. CTMA does 272 crossings a year, carrying some
105,000 passengers and 50,900 vehicles, according to 2006 statistics.

    The aim of the Government of Canada's National Marine Policy is to ensure
affordable, effective, and safe marine transport services and to encourage
fair competition. With regard to ferries, the government has committed to
ongoing support for service in remote areas, as well as constitutionally
mandated service, while reducing costs for all other services.

For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700;
Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Transport Canada is
online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news releases and speeches at
www.tc.gc.ca/listserv/ and keep up-to-date on the latest from Transport
Canada. This news release may be made available in alternative formats for
persons with visual disabilities.

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