Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador for her interest in this topic. On this side we certainly agree with her that lighthouses in Canada and abroad have been and continue to be an important symbol of our rich history and are necessary for the protection of all mariners.
It is true, though, that over the decades the nature of the work traditionally done by lightkeepers has changed considerably. In the past lightkeepers played a very key role in maintaining the lights, hence the name, and ensuring the operation of our aids to navigation system. Mariners have relied and continue to rely on that system.
The important work of lightkeepers was certainly integral to the safety of every mariner here in Canada and in fact all around the world. We appreciate and respect their contribution.
However, the reality is that with today's proven technology, the same aids to navigation service is being delivered just as safely through increased reliance on technology. These changes in technology, such as the use of solar power and accurate marine charts, real-time radio communications and the use of a differential global positioning system, have been happening all over the world and provide mariners with a far more effective and reliable aid to navigation service.
In these days of electronic charts and precise marine navigation, the fact is that having lightkeepers present on automated aids to navigation sites is not the best way to provide the necessary aids to navigation services to mariners.
Automated de-staffed light stations have been in operation successfully in Canada for more than a decade throughout the maritime provinces, on the Great Lakes, in Quebec and all throughout the world, even in the most difficult terrain such as Alaska and Norway, without affecting marine safety. Every developed country in the world has de-staffed their automated light stations.
It is important to note that in Canada, over the years, some lightkeepers have taken on the provision of services, in addition to their regular function of keeping the lights, and that mariners and aviators have grown accustomed to these additional services.
In fact, some stakeholders have reported that services, such as being the ears and eyes of the federal government on the coast for safety, security and environmental purposes, providing weather and sea state information, for example, wind speed and direction, ice conditions, wave heights, cloud types and sea lanes, etc., for mariners and aviators are important to them. We understand that.
For this reason on September 30, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asked the Canadian Coast Guard to undertake a further review of those additional services provided by lightkeepers in British Columbia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. In advance of that review, no light station will be de-staffed.
The Canadian Coast Guard is now defining the terms of that review, but let me assure members that it will include the proper consultations with lightkeepers and stakeholders to ensure that the true essence of those additional services provided and their importance to Canada are adequately captured.
If, following that review, it is determined that a staffed presence is the only way to ensure the delivery of those additional services, then this option will receive full consideration.
In closing, de-staffing of automated light stations can be done and has been done in every other developed nation in the world, most importantly, without affecting marine safety. Over the years, mariners and aviators have become accustomed to receiving additional services from lightkeepers, and I think it is important that those services be reviewed before we proceed any further on this file. Our government is committed to doing so.