Port of Churchill must be returned to public ownership

The ongoing crisis in Churchill, Manitoba is a painful reminder that the privatization of public infrastructure and services is never in the best interests of Canadians. In response to the news that a private consortium has walked away from purchasing the Churchill rail line and port from Omnitrax Canada, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) are calling for both the port and rail line to be returned to public ownership.

“Privatizing the Port of Churchill and the Churchill rail line was a bad deal for the people of Churchill then, and the fallout continues to this day”, said PSAC National President Chris Aylward. “The federal government has to do the right thing and convert the Port of Churchill into a Port Authority; something that should have been done from the start.”

American owned Omnitrax Inc., the only private owner of the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Rail line, has devastated Churchill. It began to wreak havoc on the community when it decided to close the port in 2016 and made matters even worse when it refused to repair the rail line – the community’s only road link to the rest of Canada.  Churchill, once a thriving and vibrant community well-known internationally for its polar bears and northern lights, is now facing extinction after its public infrastructure was placed into corporate hands.

“And this is why some public assets should never be privatized.” said Dave Clark, national president of UCTE, a component of PSAC, which represents workers at the port as well as other workers in the community of Churchill, MB. “Forget about all of the politics.  The federal government needs to put the people of Churchill first.”

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