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Friday, June 19, 2009

The following is a copy of a letter I sent off to the Prime Ministers office and the Minister of Transport for the Government of Canada on the Marine Atlantic fuel surcharge issue.

Let's see if we can get an answer!

Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Government of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Mr. Prime Minister

I am writing to you today to tell you of my concern as regards to Marine Atlantic’s possible application of a round of fuel surcharges on ferry rates and what the Government of Canada can possibly do about it.

During the sailing season of June, 2007 and again in 2008, Marine Atlantic was forced to institute a round of fuel surcharges that were applied to ferry rates and passenger fares to users of the service across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This caused an undue hardship and an artificial inflation rate, especially to goods and services being used by Newfoundland and Labradoreans. Particularly hard hit was grocery items that were being transported across the Gulf by trucking companies who also recouped their added fuel surcharge expenses crossing the gulf by adding fuel surcharges onto their goods and services entering the province. In turn, these added costs were handed down to the consumer in the form of higher prices for commodities, adding more stress to consumers and businesses here.

While earlier this year (January) fuel surcharges were removed from Marine Atlantic ferry rates, prices for marine type fuels have been increasing from their near record low of last October. Prices for marine type fuels have increased since January when fuel surcharges were removed and have reached a point where Marine Atlantic will be making a decision on adding a fuel surcharge once again to Marine Atlantic ferry rates, again increasing pricing to the end user, the consumer of Newfoundland and Labrador. Today, according to my research, the price of residual fuel oils has surpassed the June, 2007 price by almost thirty per cent, making the possibility of added fuel surcharges almost imminent during the start of the auto tourist user season across the gulf. A decision by the Marine Atlantic board is due shortly on any fuel surcharge addition.

I am writing you to ask you to help Marine Atlantic absorb these costs by adding additional funding to the Marine Atlantic budget as a measure to help the Newfoundland and Labrador consumer avoid seeing an added, artificial inflation rate added to consumables as a result of added fuel costs.

This is possible for the Government of Canada to accomplish. The Government of Canada recently announced a 10.7 billion dollar investment in the automotive industry to help the Ontario economy and other areas affected by the downturn. It would be my estimate that, in order to maintain the level of consumer spending and help support the tourism industry here in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Canada could make the strategic investment into Marine Atlantic’s fuel budget to ensure consumables and visitors to this province do not get hit with added fuel surcharges.

I’m hoping that your office and the Government of Canada can turn some of its attention to this issue and I await your reply to my query.

My regards,

George Murphy
Group researcher/member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

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