Budget has no good news for ferry users, says MLA

  • Feb. 27, 2012 5:00 p.m.

The provincial budget unveiled last week in Victoria does not contain any good news for ferry passengers, says North Coast MLA Gary Coons. Despite a recent report from the BC Ferry Commissioner calling for more subsidies from the provincial government to keep fares to a reasonable level, he said, the budget does not make any new money available for BC Ferries. The budget outlines a total subsidy for BC Ferries of $170 million, including the federal subsidy, Mr. Coons said, and keeps that amount the same for the next three years. “It’s a real disappointment for those in coastal communities,” he said. “It seems the ferry commissioner’s report has been ignored.” The number of passengers at BC Ferries continues to drop, with the ferry corporation losing $23 million in the last three months and ridership plunging to record low levels, Mr. Coons said. Meanwhile, British Columbians will see their ICBC rates going up by 11 percent, Hydro bills increasing by 7 percent, and MSP premiums rising 4 percent next year, he said and the budget does not contain any measures to reduce the impact of these extra expenses on families. Mr. Coons said many of the people he represents were hoping to see the government direct more money to seniors, housing, jobs training and helping families get out of poverty. The budget does not contain anything along these lines, he said, except for $15 million for advertising for the government’s “jobs plan”.