Writer rebuts the thesis that government would not dare kill ferry service

To the Expositor:

I have received some interesting feedback on my letter to the editor last week on the competitiveness of the Chi-cheemaun ferry (‘Writer weighs in with his views on what ails the Chi-Cheemaun,’ May 22, page 5). Some people feel that the provincial government “wouldn’t dare” stop funding the ferry to Manitoulin Island, as it is an essential service.

Just before the plug was pulled on the Ontario Northland rail service, I’m sure most customers who depended on those trains felt it was an essential service that would never be cancelled. Equally well, I’m sure the locals felt the same way about their Yarmouth Nova Scotia to Bar Harbour Maine ferry service when it was cancelled in 2010. Both of these “essential services” were cancelled due to decreasing ridership and chronic operating deficits.

The Ontario government currently has an $11.9 billion per year deficit, and getting worse. Our debt to GDP ratio is getting to nosebleed elevations. We are on-track to join Greece in less than 20 years if we continue on our current course.

Ontario has to borrow when it spends money it doesn’t have. Currently, interest rates are at the lowest level in North American history. Do you think interest rates will go even lower, or will they soon start to increase? When interest rates eventually increase, the debt will have to be affordable. If Ontario has to borrow more money just to pay the interest on what we previously borrowed, that is the definition of hyper-inflation; the beginning of the end.

It is unclear how much longer Ontario will fund the ferry’s chronic deficits. Will Ontario cut funding to health care, schools, or roads so as to free up money for our ferry service? For me and my family, we encourage OSTC to fully assess the situation now, while we still have time to consider our options carefully, and we still have some viable options to choose. The longer we wait to correct our course, the fewer options that remain, and the greater risk that our ferry suddenly runs aground on the financial rocks before us.

Glenn Black
Providence Bay