News Release Archive

Atlantic Canada is taking a double-hit because of marine fees for
foreign shipping set by the federal government, said
Transportation and Public Works Minister Don Downe.

"Not only does Atlantic Canada pay a higher charge than St.
Lawrence River traffic with the present marine fee structure, the
high rates the Coast Guard has set steer trans-Atlantic cargo to
the American Eastern seaboard," Mr. Downe said. "Nova Scotia's
deep-water ports are losing their natural advantage because of
artificially high fees and Ottawa has to change the way the
current flows, now."

Foreign-flag vessels are charged 17.6 cents a tonne to ship goods
through Nova Scotia and other Atlantic Canada ports to pay for
navigational aids like buoys, lighthouses, radar and a global
positioning system. Vessels with ports of call on the St.
Lawrence River and further inland pay 14 cents to load or unload

"The CN Rail line is Atlantic Canada's St. Lawrence River, and we
don't get subsidies for it," said Mr. Downe. "The net effect of
these fees would be like asking Quebecers to pay for repaving
Nova Scotia's  roads. Ottawa has to see the big picture, and the
fair picture.

Mr. Downe says deep-water, ice-free ports like Halifax and Strait
of Canso attract the largest vessels on the ocean, vessels that
couldn't be accommodated at inland ports. And since a growing
portion of the goods off-loaded in Nova Scotia are destined for
the American Midwest, that means Ottawa's high fee structure is
giving American ocean ports an advantage over Atlantic Canada's

By using Nova Scotia ports, trans-Atlantic shipping has a one-day
advantage coming or going, over American ports, Mr. Downe said. A
vessel shipping through Halifax can have its goods loaded on a
train and be half-way to Chicago, before its next stop in New
York a day later. Conversely, a North American manufacturer has
an extra day to get goods to port if shipping through Halifax.
"Ports like New York and Baltimore must love this fee structure,"
said Mr. Downe. "But not only does the Port of Halifax suffer,
there is less cargo for trucks and railways in Atlantic Canada,
Quebec and Ontario."

Mr. Downe said Nova Scotia favours a user-pay system for
navigation aids that would mean a fee of less than five cents a
tonne for foreign vessels to pay for navigation aids. Mr. Downe
will meet with federal Transportation Minister David Anderson,
and the deputy Minister of Fisheries, and Coast Guard staff 
later this month in Ottawa to press Nova Scotia's case.

"We're advocating a fair and equitable user-fee system for
navigational aids, instead of a tax-like system like that the
Canadian Coast Guard has in place," said Mr. Downe.

The Coast Guard began charging commercial shipping for aids to
navigation in June, 1996, with the intention of raising $20
million in fiscal 1997. They divided the country into three
regions with separate charging schemes for each. Under the scheme
the Atlantic region foots 30 per cent of the bill.

Canadian Coast Guard officials indicated they would implement a
compromise solution by April 1, 1997, but a new fee structure has
yet to be established. Coast Guard officials have said separate
user-pay, ice-breaking charges will be introduced next year,
although no fee structure is in place.


Contact: Public Affairs and Communications  902-424-8687

trp                     Mar. 3, 1997 - 12:35 p.m.