Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the question raised by my colleague, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, regarding the impact of service resulting from VIA's recently announced job cuts.
As he mentioned, these job cuts are part of VIA's strategy to improve its operating efficiency and bring the costs of its operations in line with its reduced funding levels. In itself, this objective is no different from that of any other crown corporation or company in the private sector.
The challenge that VIA faces is it has to reduce its operating costs by $100 million by the end of 1996-97 while maintaining as much of the existing rail passenger services network as possible. This is no ordinary feat. To meet that challenge VIA management must rethink the way it does business. All work practices that have been the mainstay of past railway operations
have to be re-evaluated and streamlined throughout the organization.
The job cuts announced on October 13 affected people at all levels of the corporation from senior management positions to the workshop level. The minister mentioned that in his answer on the day of the question. This provides an indication that VIA management is serious about taking the necessary steps to assure its long term viability.
The review on the future of VIA services is not yet completed. It is part of the recognition by the government that we must address our national deficit, the size of which makes it a problem for all Canadians and not just an item on the previous government's agenda. For its part, VIA management has demonstrated that it is ready to meet its current challenge.
With the co-operation of its employees, its chances of succeeding are significantly improved as, hopefully, will service to the travelling public.