Prince Edward Island—Confederation Bridge Tolls and FeesPublished on 22 June 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Percy Downe
Hon. Percy E. Downe:
Honourable senators, I’m most impressed with the success Senator Plett had on his Manitoba issue, and I am also equally impressed with the work Senator Harder did in moving the file forward.
In that spirit, I would like to raise another concern that Senator Harder may have heard me speak about before in the chamber, and that’s the incredibly high fee Prince Edward Islanders pay to leave on Confederation Bridge, which is currently $46 for every trip.
There are a couple solutions the government may want to consider. I’m wondering if you would consider talking to them about extending the contract, which was originally for 35 years, even though the bridge was built to last 100. Extending the contract for at least seven years would reduce the tolls by half; extending it longer would reduce them to zero. Another solution is for Islanders to be eligible for a credit similar to northern credits or urban transportation credits for the number of times they cross.
I raise this for a host of reasons. the tolls hinder our trade and our economy. I hear from Islanders on a continuous basis that as a small province we don’t have all the medical facilities that other provinces have. In particular, people who have to take their children to Halifax have to travel back and forth constantly.
On a more minor note, we are the only province in Canada without a passport office, so the cost of getting a passport is $46 plus the gas mileage to get to Halifax. I had a recent encounter with an Islander who went to Halifax with her passport. They were going to Lebanon on a summer holiday. They had the documents reviewed at the office. Everything was fine. They returned to Charlottetown only to find out there was a mistake and they had to travel back to Halifax.
The tolls are a hindrance to a host of things.
Given your outstanding work with Senator Plett, I am wondering if you could work with your officials in government over the summer to see what possible solutions there are for Prince Edward Islanders.