Premier defends costs for idled international ferry service to Maine

news-update

Nova Scotia's premier is defending the provincial subsidy for a ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine after operations were cancelled for the third consecutive year.

Stephen McNeil said Thursday while he wishes the ferry link could have been subsidized for less money, the service will be sustainable over the long run.

McNeil says the ferry is important for the tourism industry in southwestern Nova Scotia and says once it begins sailing again for a few consecutive seasons the subsidy will come down over time.

The province said earlier this week it was cancelling the 2021 sailing season because of the "ongoing uncertainty'' around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 season was also cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns, and the 2019 season was shelved when operator Bay Ferries was unable to complete construction at the Bar Harbor terminal to meet U.S. customs specifications.

The province budgeted $16.3 million for last year's sailing season and there's no word yet on what the fixed costs will be for this year.