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e-3723 (Transportation)

E-petition
Initiated by Chris Alemany from Port Alberni, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees under Section 6(2) that every citizen and permanent resident has the right to move to and take up residence in any province and to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province;
  • Greyhound Canada and other private carriers have severely curtailed services, stranding Canadians and leaving no affordable or safe alternative to move about the country;
  • Call for Justice 4.8 from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls on all governments to ensure that adequate plans and funding are put into place for safe and affordable transit and transportation services and infrastructure for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people living in remote or rural communities;
  • Extreme weather events are affecting infrastructure and services often leaving bus and rail service as the only viable transportation;
  • The Government of Canada has stated a commitment to increase use of public transit and reduce CO2 emissions to fight climate change; and
  • The Government of Canada itself and in partnership with the Provinces and Territories has historically demonstrated an ability through services like VIA Rail and other public entities to guarantee affordable and accessible public transportation to all citizens of Canada.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to create or empower a national public corporation to provide transportation by bus and rail to Canadians, with the mission of connecting all communities within every province and territory with safe, affordable, accessible, resilient, and integrated service.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Omar Alghabra

Transportation affects the daily lives of Canadians and Transport Canada is committed to providing travelers with a national transportation system that is safe, reliable and continues to serve Canadians.

Transport Canada recognizes the importance of intercity bus in supporting the quality of life of Canadians that rely on these services for their mobility needs, including seniors and students as well as rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

In February 2021, the Government of Canada’s announced an investment of $14.9 billion over the next eight years in reliable, fast, affordable, and clean public transit. This funding includes $3 billion per year in permanent, predictable federal public transit funding, which will be available to support transit solutions beginning in 2026/27.

As per the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, provinces and territories have the lead role to play in the economic regulation of intercity buses, including interprovincial services.

That is why, in July 2021, the Minister of Transport wrote to provincial and territorial colleagues, following Greyhound’s discontinuation of all domestic services, encouraging collaboration to assess the current state of the sector and to identify potential opportunities to support intercity bus services. Officials from Transport Canada led a series of productive meetings with provincial and territorial counterparts that underscored the diverse regulatory approaches to intercity bus. For example, Quebec has adopted a regulated approach for intercity bus while Ontario has recently deregulated the sector.

This work reinforced the unique regional needs, tailored regional approaches undertaken by provinces and territories, and the potential real risks and drawbacks to advancing a one-size-fits-all or national approach.

An important initiative for rural and remote communities is the Rural Transit Solutions Fund, which is the first federal fund to target the development of transit solutions in rural and remote communities. It is making $250 million in federal funding available over 5 years, beginning in 2021, to support the development of locally-driven transit solutions that will help people living in rural communities get to work, school, appointments, and visit loved ones.

The Rural Transit Solutions Fund also supports reconciliation by improving the safety of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited individuals who live in rural and remote areas. A minimum of 10% of the total $250 million funding envelope for Rural Transit Solutions Fund will be allocated to projects that benefit Indigenous populations and communities.

The Government of Canada also recognizes that the pandemic has exacerbated ongoing financial challenges faced by the intercity bus sector. Many operators had to reduce, suspend or cancel services. 

Despite these challenges, Transport Canada recognizes the resilience of Canada’s surface transportation network and is encouraged to see that many intercity bus operators have begun resuming services and new entrants are joining the market.

As pandemic-related health restrictions continue to be gradually eased, Canadians are beginning to travel again. Safe, reliable, and accessible transportation will continue to be important to supporting Canada’s recovery.

That is why the Government of Canada has provided financial support to intercity bus operators throughout the pandemic with programs such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

The Government of Canada has also supported intercity bus carriers offering charter services through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program, both established in December 2021.

And finally, it is why as part of Budget 2022, the Government of Canada intends to provide additional funding to provinces and territories to support municipal and other transit services. This funding will help support the resumption of these services to pre-pandemic levels.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the national transportation system meets the mobility needs of Canadians and remains open to engaging and collaborating with provinces and territories, in their capacity as the lead economic regulators, to support the intercity bus sector.

Regarding passenger rail, the Government of Canada also recognizes the importance of these services across Canada and has continued to support and transform them to promote a cleaner transportation system.

That is why Transport Canada invested $1.5 billion so that, starting this year, VIA will welcome passengers on its new fleet in the Quebec City to Windsor Corridor. This fleet will be one of the most environmentally friendly in North America.

That is also why in 2019 – as a snapshot year – Transport Canada invested more than $500 million in funding for VIA Rail to provide national coast to coast passenger rail services accessed by over 5 million Canadians and 400 communities.

Additionally, Transport Canada’s funding of $43 million over 3 years, beginning in 2021, will continue the Remote Passenger Rail Program, which supports the provision of passenger rail service to certain remote communities with no alternative means of surface transportation.

The Government of Canada also continues to advance the High Frequency Rail (HFR) project in Ontario and Quebec, which would be the largest transportation infrastructure projects in decades. As proposed in Budget 2022, the Government of Canada intends to provide $396.8 million over two years to support planning and design steps of the HFR project. Budget 2022 also proposes to invest $42.8 million over four years to construct and upgrade VIA Rail stations inside the Windsor to Quebec City Corridor to ensure VIA can continue to provide the quality national rail service that Canadians deserve.

The Government of Canada will continue to support a national coast to coast passenger rail network and invest in a clean transportation system to meet the mobility needs of Canadians.

 

 

Open for signature
December 9, 2021, at 1:23 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 9, 2022, at 1:23 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Taylor Bachrach (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
March 28, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00286)
Government response tabled
May 11, 2022
Photo - Taylor Bachrach
Skeena—Bulkley Valley
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia
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