Ottawa to fund ferry revitalization project in Quebec

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The federal government has reached an agreement with the Quebec government to fund the revitalization of the Lévis ferry area to the tune of $6.33 million, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

He made the announcement Friday afternoon in Lévis, Que., where he is spending the day to mark the beginning of the 59th Quebec Winter Carnaval.

"I am pleased to announce that our government has reached an agreement with the Government of Quebec to help Lévis modernize and improve its ferry terminal and the related services, including a new restaurant, and boardwalk," Harper said.

The federal, provincial, and municipal governments will share the cost of the $19-million revitalization project, with Ottawa and Quebec contributing a maximum of $6.33 million.

Construction is expected to begin in July 2013 and be completed in March 2015.

Harper was joined by Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, and Lévis Mayor Danielle Roy Marinelli.

The prime minister took questions from reporters following the announcement before heading off for a private meeting with Marois.

This will be their second meeting since the Parti Québécois won a minority government on Sept. 4.

Harper and Marois first chatted during the Francophonie Summit in the Congo in October.

Employment Insurance

The Quebec premier is expected to raise the subject of employment insurance reform with Harper.

Thousands of Quebecers have been protesting the federal government's new changes to EI, since they were first announced last May.

On Friday, a French-language newspaper in Quebec reported that Service Canada employees have been asked to find $40,000 in fraudulent EI claims every month.

When asked about that allegation by the New Democrats during Friday's question period in Ottawa, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley denied the newspaper report saying there are "no individual quotas."

Earlier Friday, Harper visited Bonhomme Carnaval, the official mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnival, at his iconic Ice Palace.

“I am pleased to be here on the opening day of this spectacular event," Harper said.