07/16/2014 11:10 EDT | Updated 09/15/2014 05:59 EDT

East Coast ferry funds will improve safety, federal transport minister says

SAINT JOHN, N.B. - The federal transport minister says an infusion of $58 million over the next two years will enhance the safety and efficiency of ferry services in Eastern Canada.

Lisa Raitt was in Saint John, N.B., today alongside New Brunswick Premier David Alward where she reiterated the funding commitment after it was first announced in February.

Raitt says the money will allow for the continued operation of three ferry services: between Digby, N.S., and Saint John; the route between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S.; and the service between Souris, P.E.I., and Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Que.

She says the ferry services are important to the economic sustainability of the region.

The federal government announced last year that it is looking for a replacement for the 43-year-old MV Princess of Acadia, which operates between Digby and Saint John.

The replacement is expected to be in service next year.

The New Brunswick government has committed $2 million over the next two years for the Saint John — Digby service, but it is contingent on Nova Scotia providing matching funds.