Letter to the Editor: “Churchill buck-passing a disgrace”

UCTE National VP Teresa Eschuk not mincing words in today’s Winnipeg Free Press

From the November 6, 2017 Winnipeg Free Press (link)

Re: Transport agency opens probe into damaged Omintrax rail line (Nov. 3)

The latest blow to the people of Churchill is both an outrage and a disgrace. They have been treated poorly and disrespected by Omnitrax for years while the federal and provincial governments blame each other for the mess that has been created in northern Manitoba.

Our members are mad as hell, and who could blame them? Their employment at the port has been limited by inaction and ineptitude. Their main access out of the community — the rail line — lies in disarray while the parties who could fix it bicker amongst themselves. Now they are being forced to deal with $2-per-litre gasoline as the coldest days of the year begin.

It’s time for action and no more words on behalf of the people who are in a position to help.

At this point, Omnitrax is a lost cause for the people of Churchill. It’s time to kick them out and for the feds to take over the Port of Churchill. We, our members and the community are ready and willing to assist in bringing this vital engine back to life, hopefully as a port authority that can be responsive and responsible to the community.

It’s also time for the province to step in with some money instead of their “blame-thrower.” They could start with a fuel subsidy to offset the exorbitant gasoline prices that northern communities are facing. Then they could sit down with all the partners in Churchill to help develop an economic plan that includes fixing the rail line and re-opening the valuable Port of Churchill for business again.

Until these things happen, the people in Churchill have a right to be angry. It’s time to show them the respect they are due and the support that they need.

Teresa Eschuk

National vice-president, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees