The government of Canada has announced new measures to support essential air access for remote communities during the pandemic. Remote communities are those that rely on air service as the only year-round mode of transportation. There are 140 communities with airports that were considered remote while designing this program.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis in the aviation industry’s ability to service communities, which is having a significant impact on the remote communities that depend on small air carriers for essential goods, services, and access in and out of the community. As the pandemic continues to evolve, the government of Canada is working with partners, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous partners and the air industry to address the unique needs of these communities.
The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau; the Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honourable Daniel Vandal; and the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Marc Miller, have announced new measures to support essential air access to remote communities. These include:
- Seeking bilateral agreements with provinces and territories to ensure continuity of service for at least six months.
- Establishing a $75-million funding program for the federal contribution for the first six months and maintaining these essential services through an investment of up to $174 million over 18 months, if needed.
Additional funding will depend on the needs of communities and the pace of recovery of air travel into remote communities.
This funding, in partnership with contributions by the provincial and territorial governments, will ensure minimum levels of essential transportation services to remote communities, and ensure the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services.
Under these agreements, the provinces and territories would determine minimum essential services to remote communities and administer a program with air operators to deliver the required level of essential services. A fixed funding amount will be allocated to each jurisdiction that has remote communities based on historical passenger volumes.