FREDERICTON (GNB) – The development of a provincial public transportation strategy is a priority of the New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation, which recently held a symposium to discuss the importance of public transportation in the lives of New Brunswickers.

The symposium, held March 22-23 in Fredericton, attracted about 200 participants with an interest, mandate, knowledge or experience in public and community transportation. Guest speakers and transportation experts from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Québec and Ontario helped guide the discussions.

“The issue of transportation is important to everyone in our province – allowing our residents to move for reasons such as employment, health, training and leisure,” said Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard, who is also minister responsible for the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation. “It was a pleasure to discuss various opportunities for our province with such a dedicated group of passionate and experienced participants and guest speakers.”

The symposium provided the participants with an opportunity to learn more about the current context in New Brunswick, leading models in the Maritimes and Canada, regulations and policy considerations, available funding and networking. Municipal public transit as well as accessible and active transportation were also addressed.

The objective of the symposium was to lay the foundation for integrated regional transport strategies in connection with the reform of local governance and the Overcoming Poverty Together: New Brunswick's Economic and Social Inclusion Plan.

One of the plan’s priority actions is to develop and implement regional transportation plans to increase the accessibility, affordability and availability of transportation services. There are currently twelve community transportation services in the province, supported by the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation and their Regional Service Commissions.

“The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation is pleased to have brought together stakeholders, funders and transportation providers during the symposium,” said Jean Allain, chair of the corporation’s board. “We need the collaboration of all stakeholders to ensure that residents of the province will benefit from partnership arrangements for transportation. I believe we are on track.”

The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation is a Crown corporation that co-ordinates and implements the Overcoming Poverty Together strategy. Its board of directors consists of 17 members representing government, business, community non-profit organizations and people who have experienced poverty.