With the world’s largest coastline and numerous inland waterways, Canada has an extensive ferry fleet approximating some 130 vessels. Canadian shipyards are active building some of the world’s most technologically advanced ferries, using new environmentally technologies such as LNG propulsion and even battery-power.
While the SAC worked with the Canadian Shipowners Association to relax the tariffs applied to deepsea cargo ships used in the transportation of bulk goods, the government unfortunately and likely accidentally included ferries over 129 meters in the remission order. This was and is still vehemently objected by the SAC but today remains in full force.
Presently this year, Canada’s largest ferry operator, BC Ferries, announced that it will tender for three new intermediate class vessels.
Despite ample capacity in Canada to build these vessels, BC Ferries are presently only negotiating with foreign shipbuilders to the detriment of the greater Canadian economy.
Also, in Nova Scotia, Marine Atlantic is upgrading their fleet by leasing used ferries from overseas.
In a highly unusual turn of events, Public Works and Government Services Canada who license the operation of a federal government- owned ferry serving St. John, New Brunswick and Digby, Nova Scotia are enquiring to buy a ferry (up to 20 years old) to replace the existing vintage vessel (Princess of Acadia). The SAC is disappointed that the government would consider to buy a second-hand ferry for a long-term service and considers this approach uneconomical, short-termist and potentially dangerous.
Quebec and Newfoundland on the other hand have maintained an admirable policy to renew its fleet in Canada. Today Davie shipbuilding in Quebec City is building two advanced, LNG-powered ferries. Chantier Naval Forillon has also delivered an innovative battery-powered ferry for the province. In Newfoundland, a series of 6 ferries is planned. The first two have been constructed by Kiewit Offshore Services in Marystown, Newfoundland
Since the remission of the 25% duty in 2010, seven ferries have been constructed or leased from offshore with the potential for another four to follow shortly. This is wholly unacceptable and again shows the lack of a coherent maritime policy, needed to develop a sustainable shipbuilding industry.