PORT AUX BASQUES, NL – The Port aux Basques and Area Chamber of Commerce has released a statement about Oceanex’s recent bid to have Marine Atlantic subsidies reduced.
The two companies bring in nearly all of the island’s commercial freight, and Oceanex is asking the transport minister to reconsider Marine Atlantic’s 2016-2017 rates.
The case was heard in St. John’s federal court in late October, and a decision is not expected until spring.
As of Dec. 31, 2016, the Crown corporation reported more than 750 employees based out of its Port aux Basques terminal – 283 shore-based workers and 494 vessel-based employees.
As the town is a key point of entry for the province, the outcome of the court case could have a devastating effect on the southwest region, where most of the corporation’s workforce resides.
Natashua Osmond, managing coordinator for the chamber, sent the following statement to the Gulf News.
“The chamber would like to voice their concerns revolving around the Sid Hynes vs. Marine Atlantic situation. The chamber currently has 102 businesses that are members and some of them are starting to get worried about whether or not Sid Hynes wins his case.
“If the subsidy for Marine Atlantic goes to Oceanex or is even shared, the businesses and consumers will certainly see the effects from it. Marine Atlantic will have to put their costs up, which means the stores will have to put their costs up and then the consumers will have to suffer for it. Businesses could go out of business as they struggle on a day-to-day basis as it is.
“The chamber has been telling all of the businesses to voice their concerns and frustrations to our MHA. It is a very scary situation to be in right about now.”
Osmond also shared her own feelings on the court case.
“Even speaking on a personal level, my husband works with Marine Atlantic, and if there are job cuts, his would most likely be one – which means we would have no other choice but to move away as we would not be able to afford what we have.”