Mr. Speaker, I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that the federal government's official subsidy of VIA Rail was reduced from $212 million in 1997 to $178 million in 1998. The bad news is that VIA's losses went from $253 million in 1997 to $261 million in 1998. Who picks up the difference? The Canadian taxpayer. Perhaps that is why the Minister of Transport went to cabinet and asked for the subsidy to be increased from $500,000 a day to almost $2 million a day.
The good news is that the Rocky Mountaineer, a private sector rail tour company, installed sewage containment units on all of its rail cars years ago. The bad news is that VIA Rail continues to dump raw sewage on the tracks wherever it goes. CN and CP workers have to work on these tracks, which make for unbelievably bad working conditions and possible health risks. If VIA is forced to make the same change as the private sector voluntarily did, the Canadian taxpayer will be asked to pick up the bill.
When is the government going to stop wasting the taxpayers' money and privatize VIA Rail?