The transportation lobby group, Northern & Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) says the provincial government is committed to supporting high-speed rail in southern Ontario while continuing to cut services in the north.
In a news release, the group points to the Liberal government at Queen’s Park announcement last week of a 21 billion dollar plan to develop a high-speed rail corridor between Toronto and Windsor.
"Meanwhile in Northern Ontario, the government refuses to address legitimate transportation challenges that exist in the region. In 2012, the Liberals axed the Northlander’s funding of 11 million. Residents in four districts no longer have train service to Southern Ontario. Federally, both the Conservatives (in 2014) and the Liberals (in 2016) revoked the Algoma Central train’s funding of 2.2 million."
The release says 85% of this remote corridor has no publically maintained roads.
"Both the federal and provincial governments continue to rob from Peter in order to pay Paul, resulting in a level of inequity between the needs of urban and rural communities. Where’s Northern Ontario’s share of the pie?," asks the group.
"Public transportation is becoming unreliable or extinct in northern Ontario. Northerners have been subjected to a number of recent reductions in the frequency or reliability of their train, bus and air services. People living in remote communities are unable to rely on VIA Rail’s Canadian, a service that is routinely four, eight, 12, 16 or even 20 hours late. Riders of VIA’s Sudbury-White River train are subjected to regular delays ranging from one to two and a half hours."
NEORN says there are reports of travellers on Greyhound Canada’s motor coach service being left to fend for themselves in Wawa for nearly 24 hours on a bus without heat, subsequent to the closure of Highway 17.
Another traveller was reportedly left stranded for nine hours in Blind River because of another weather related closure of the Trans-Canada Highway.
"Queen’s Park and Parliament have announced billions of dollars to improve and expand GO train service to Bowmanville & Niagara Falls. The province subsidizes many millions annually to the operation of the Union-Pearson Express. The Northlander amounted to an investment of 86 cents per resident of Ontario. The federal contribution to the Northlander and Algoma Central services was a mere seven cents for every Canadian."