Private member’s bill introduced for VIA Rail Canada

“A positive first step” – Chris West

This week, Irene Mathyssen (London Fanshawe) introduced Bill C370 that provides an outline of governance for VIA Rail Canada.

The 2016 Auditor General’s report on the Crown Corporation identified flaws in the way our rail passenger service is managed and delivered. VIA Rail is a Crown corporation but has no long-term plan or direction approved by the government. Therefore, VIA can, for instance, unilaterally end service on a given route without Parliament having any say.

Bill C370 seeks to address these deficiencies by establishing a clear mandate for VIA Rail. It would among other things make it mandatory for VIA Rail to offer minimum services and frequencies and to increase its level of service with regards to punctuality. Very importantly, it will make VIA Rail’s decision to cancel services or close stations subject to approval by Parliament. In addition to these essential improvements, increasing rail travel has the great advantages of financial sustainability and reducing environmental impacts.

“It’s vital that the Government of Canada acknowledge and support an infrastructure of safe, timely, accessible and affordable public rail transit. It’s time to put Canadians on VIA. We applaud the wisdom and determination of Irene Mathyssen in putting forward this Bill as a positive first step.” – Chris West, All Aboard St. Marys

“This bill is an effort to turn the tide of the steady erosion of rail travel that began with the Liberals’ deregulation of the industry and privatization of the Canadian National Railway system in 1995” said Mathyssen.

“New Democrats believe that communities must be able to rely on VIA’s passenger rail service. It is an economic driver for many regions so long as it is sustainable, affordable, accessible and reliable. This bill would establish and guarantee service to communities. Canadians deserve reliable and efficient passenger train services”.

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