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Letter to the editor: The first step is acceptance

It is welcome news that, in approaching the charitable organization Hope Air to institute a program to pay the Confederation Bridge tolls for low-income Islanders who need to travel off-Island for medical care, the Government of Prince Edward Island has acknowledged the obstacle that the $46 toll represents to Islanders.

As Doug Keller-Hobson, the executive director of Hope Air, stated, the province raised concerns to him about the cost of the bridge being a barrier to access medical services.

This program is a good start, but it is only a start. The high cost of merely driving off the Island creates problems for anyone who must travel, and effectively creates a tariff on commerce between Prince Edward Island and the rest of Canada. All Islanders and visitors alike feel the effects of this toll, and it is important that the provincial government recognize this and work to erase that barrier for all Islanders.

It is equally important that the federal government recognize the fundamental inequity in charging $46 on Confederation Bridge while ruling out tolls on Montreal’s new $4.2 billion replacement for the Champlain Bridge. A single national policy for federally funded transportation infrastructure is imperative, wherever it may be. I fail to understand why the Government of Canada continues to insist that Islanders pay $46 to use Confederation Bridge, but does not want to charge Quebecers anything for a new bridge Ottawa has agreed to fully fund.

Percy Downe

Senator, Charlottetown

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