Minister of Transport High Frequency Rail Announcement leaves workers behind

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|May 30, 2023

MONTREAL— Transport Canada announced the conclusion of the Request for Qualification (RFQ) phase for the High Frequency Project.

"The federal government continues to ignore the voice of workers throughout this process," stated Lana Payne, Unifor National President. "It's ironic that the Minister selects two foreign state-owned railway companies from Germany and Spain to advance to the final phase of the RFQ process, despite previously claiming that government-owned passenger rail is not a viable solution. Unifor has expressed concerns with the government's insistence on privatization throughout the process, in spite of their failure to properly and publicly consult with workers."


Three companies, Cadence, Intercity Rail Developers, and QConnexiON Rail Partners, have been invited to proceed to the Request for Proposals (RFP) phase. During the RFP stage, these groups will present their proposals, outlining technically and commercially viable solutions, business plans, and management strategies for co-developing, constructing, and operating the project.

The recent announcement marks the beginning of the Request for Proposals stage, indicating that the High Frequency Rail (HFR) project remains largely undefined, with any potential benefits unlikely to materialize for at least 10 years. Despite the Federal Government spending millions on the process to date, there seems to be little hope of improved passenger rail service for Canadians in the foreseeable future.

"The Canadian public's significant contributions, exceeding $1.5 billion, towards VIA Rail corridor improvements cannot be overlooked. Ignoring workers and entering into a privatization deals is reckless and demands a change of course," said Payne.

Unifor strongly emphasizes the importance of preserving VIA Rail’s public ownership throughout any future passenger rail expansion plans. Public-Private Partnership (P3) agreements have historically harmed Canadians, cost more, and result in lower service levels to the public.

Unifor is calling upon the Minister of Transport to engage with workers and collaboratively develop a path forward that prioritizes all Canadians and ensures their interests are not left behind.

Unifor represents more than 2,000 VIA Rail workers across the country.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.

The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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Unifor is a Canadian union with a modern, inclusive approach to serving members and improving our workplaces and communities.