Get Canada Back on Track is a joint campaign of Unifor’s national union and Unifor Council 4000 and Local 100.
Our campaign has three key goals:
- Advocate for a national passenger rail service that provides safe, reliable, frequent transportation across the country and good, green, long-term jobs.
- The adoption of a legislative framework in favour of public, accessible, safe passenger rail.
- Secure immediate public investments to build Canada's passenger rail infrastructure, prioritize passenger trains, and improve services for travellers.
How the Federal Government can Revitalize Passenger Rail
1. Pass a National VIA Rail Act
Via Rail continues to operate without any legislated mandate compared to other crown corporations. This inhibits its ability to operate independently of government and hampers any long-term company planning. Passing a VIA Rail Act would provide the necessary foundation to ensure VIA is not impeded by political priorities and ideology and provides a minimum standard of national service, all while remaining accountable to the public.
2. Improve VIA Rail service by increasing frequency of service and expand the number of route serviced outside of the Toronto – Quebec City corridor
While VIA Rail makes investments to its profitable Toronto – Quebec City corridor line, the rest of the network is being neglected. We need to expand the number of routes being serviced and increase frequency so that Canadians view passenger rail as a viable, efficient and economical transportation option.
3. Provide stable, long-term funding that will be used to enhance operations and revitalize and modernize VIA’s equipment and infrastructure
Outdated equipment not only diminishes transportation efficiency, it also endangers safety and requires more costs to maintain. We need to make sure we have a passenger rail system that is built for the 21st century.
4. Ensuring VIA Rail service remains a public service
We oppose any attempts to privatize passenger rail routes or services. We have repeatedly seen how privatized transportation services end up costing more while service, transparency and public accountability is reduced. VIA Rail must remain a public service that benefits passengers – not shareholders.
5. Examine how passenger rail service can be better accommodated while sharing tracks with freight in order to improve on time performance.
Until VIA can operate on its own separate tracks and rail infrastructure, the government must find ways to work with freight companies in order to accommodate passenger rail service so that delays are significantly reduced.
Vision for Success
Work is already under way in realizing our goals.
Earlier this month Unifor National President Jerry Dias wrote an op-ed "Canada must invest in revitalizing its national passenger rail service" arguing the need for the federal government to step up and pour some significant dollars into VIA Rail.
In addition to the op-ed, we worked with Green Party Member of Parliament Elizabeth May to introduce legislation establishing a legislative framework and mandate for VIA Rail.
This legislation aims to strengthen access to safe, reliable, and efficient public passenger rail service for people across Canada.
Our campaign is building momentum, but we need your support to help us get across the finish line.
Stay tuned! In the coming weeks we will launch our campaign website, petition and shareables.
We encourage you to promote the campaign amongst your family and friends.
We won't be able to do this alone. We look forward to your continued solidarity and support.