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e-3938 (Transportation)

Initiated by Kristopher Whittaker from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • VIA Rail Canada is an essential service owned by the Canadian public;
  • VIA Rail Canada is a public asset that must remain public;
  • VIA Rail Canada is the sole option to affordable, intra-provincial travel for countless Canadians;
  • Passenger rail is the most environmentally friendly mode of mass transportation;
  • VIA Rail Canada is an affordable and green essential service that must remain accessible to all Canadians;
  • Profit is the driving factor for any privately owned or publicly traded company. History shows us that privatization inherently leads to less service, lower wages, fewer jobs, higher costs, and closure of assets and routes deemed non-profitable all at the detriment of the end-user; and
  • At a time when the ever-changing climate has become one of humanity's greatest concerns, we as a nation should be investing in and championing passenger rail as a green, economical and efficient alternative to travel within Canada, accessible to all. To privatize this piece of VIA Rail Canada's network is taking a major step backward in accessible transportation to all.
We, the undersigned, Residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Transport to stop the privatization of VIA Rail Canada in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, VIA Rail’s most profitable service.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Omar Alghabra

Transforming intercity passenger rail is a priority for the Government of Canada. The High Frequency Rail (HFR) project is a key pillar in this effort. The HFR project represents a once-in-a-generation expansion of services to Canadians in the Toronto-Quebec City Corridor. By operating on tracks exclusive to its services, HFR would increase speeds and reduce journey times, increase frequencies and flexibility, and improve on-time performance and service reliability. It may also contribute to reduced road congestion and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging a shift of travellers from higher emitting transportation modes to rail.

The HFR project is the largest transportation infrastructure project Canada has seen in decades. Given the project’s size and complexity, the Government of Canada is taking a collaborative public-private partnership approach to developing the project – inviting the best Canadian and international firms to compete and present innovative approaches to optimize, deliver and operate the service. By maximizing competition and innovation, better services can be offered, design and construction can be accelerated, and cost to taxpayers can be reduced.

The Government of Canada is not privatizing VIA Rail – the Government of Canada is, and will continue to be, the owner of VIA Rail, including the HFR project. VIA Rail, its unions, and its employees are central to the success of High Frequency Rail. The Government of Canada will require that any arrangement with a private sector partner to operate in the Corridor respects existing collective agreements and benefits, demonstrate how the partner would work with unions and employees, and ensures that existing employees would benefit from the job opportunities the project would offer. A private sector proposal that does not meet these requirements will not be entertained by the government. The Government of Canada will require that any arrangement with a private sector partner respects existing collective agreements and benefits, collaborates with unions, and ensures that existing employees would benefit from the job opportunities this project will offer.

HFR would bring many new jobs to the passenger rail sector, expanding career opportunities for current VIA employees. It is expected that existing Corridor-based employees would eventually transfer to the new operator. Through this change, minimizing negative impacts on employees and their unions would be a priority.

The Government of Canada has established a number of desired outcomes for the project, which are described in the Request for Expressions of Interest (, released on March 10, 2022. These include:

  • producing a significant modal shift to passenger rail,
  • enhancing the passenger experience in the Corridor,
  • supporting Canada’s net-zero commitment,
  • facilitate accessibility and advance social equity, including incorporating an affordable fare and ticketing strategy,
  • enable safe intercity journeys, and
  • mitigate impacts on Canadian taxpayers.


Open for signature
March 18, 2022, at 1:45 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
May 17, 2022, at 1:45 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
June 14, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00570)
Government response tabled
August 17, 2022
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia