2 new ferries for P.E.I., Magdalen Islands to be built in Quebec
New ferries first announced in the last federal budget in March
The federal government says it plans to soon sign a contract with Quebec shipyard Chantier Davie to build replacements for two ferries in eastern Canada — the MV Holiday Island which runs between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia in the summer, and the MV Madeleine in service between the Magdalen Islands and Souris, P.E.I.
The new ferries were first announced in the last federal budget in March.
"The Government of Canada conducted industry analysis, which concluded that Chantier Davie is the only known Canadian shipyard with the capacity, recent experience and capability to build these ferries in the required time frame," a written release issued Friday said.
Ottawa will issue an advance contract award notice, or ACAN, that signals its intention to enter into a contract with the Lévis-based shipyard to build the ferries for Transport Canada.
"Other interested suppliers will have 15 calendar days to submit a statement of capabilities to show they meet the requirements laid out in the ACAN," the release said.
The release does not estimate what the contract could be worth. P.E.I.'s representative in federal cabinet and long-time champion of the ferry service Lawrence MacAulay said in March it was too soon to put a price tag or a timeline on the ferry delivery.
Time to replace
Both ferries are "nearing the end of their life cycle," the release said.
The Holiday Island was built in 1971 and was taken out of service for the season in 2016 for extensive repairs, leading to a reduced sailing schedule for Northumberland Ferries.
A Magdalen Islands ferry was in the news this winter — it had to be diverted to North Sydney after the ice became too thick for the ferry to break through, even with the help of the Coast Guard.
"Our government is proud to be fulfilling its Budget 2019 commitment to build new ferries for Transport Canada," said Carla Qualtrough, Canada's minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, in the release.
Relationship with shipyard ongoing
The contract with Chantier Davie may be seen as a strategic political move ahead of a federal election this fall. It is the latest in a series of large government contracts that allowed the company to stave off impending layoffs.
The construction work will create skilled, good-paying jobs, the release said.
"From the beginning, our government has been working on rebuilding its relationship with management and employees at Davie," said Quebec cabinet minister Jean-Yves Duclos in the release. "Today, our government is turning once again to Davie workers for their expertise, since they are best placed to respond to the needs of our government for ferry services across the country."
The new ferries are being funded by Ottawa as part of its Ferry Services Contribution Program which provides funding to private operators to support three interprovincial ferry services in Eastern Canada. As well as replacing the two ferries, the March budget also extended that program for another two years until March 2022.