ISSUE/SOURCE: SUPPORT FOR SMALL AIR CARRIER SERVING REMOTE COMMUNITITES DUE TO IMPACTS FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
DATE: January 12, 2020
- In August 2020, the Government of Canada announced funding of up to $174 million to ensure continuity of essential air access to remote communities through the development of bilateral agreements with provinces and territories.
- The funding is part of the Government of Canada-wide response to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This $174 million Remote Air Services Program was designed to ensure remote communities receive essential levels of air service over the medium-term.
- The Remote Air Services Program aims at complementing funding mechanisms that Provinces, Territories and Indigenous Governments have implemented, or will be implementing to flow funding to air carriers providing air service to remote communities.
- Without this support, residents of 140 remote communities across Canada relying on air service as the only year-round transportation mode could find themselves without the air services required for the essential movement of people and goods.
- Transport Canada is currently working on next steps to allocate funding for Phase 2 of Remote Air Services Program and will be engaging with stakeholders in due course.
- On August 6, 2020, TC announced the Remote Air Services Program and investments of up to $174 million over 18 months, as needed, including seeking bilateral agreements with provinces and territories to ensure continuity of air service to remote communities for at least six months from July through December 2020.
- The Remote Air Service Program is targeted at remote services and was not intended to address service cuts for regional routes.
- It was designed to flow funding to jurisdictions through a series of three phases (each 6 months in length), beginning with phase 1 between July and December 2020, phase 2 between January to June 2021, and phase 3 between July to December 2021.
- Since the announcement, agreements with the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, the Yukon and British Columbia have been finalized and over half of the funds announced for phase one of the program have been disbursed.
- Agreements with the Provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec) have been finalized and are pending approvals from their respective provincial governments.
- Agreements with Alberta and the Regional Indigenous Governments, the Nunatsiavut and the Innu Nation, in Labrador have not been finalized. Both have indicated interest in participating.
- Since the spring, although there was evidence of recovery, passenger volumes have not recovered far beyond 40% of 2019 passenger volumes. With the second wave of the pandemic underway, including in some First Nations communities, passenger volumes are expected to again decrease and Provinces and Territories, particularly the latter, have signaled the need for ongoing support. There is therefore a demonstratable need to allocate the funding identified by jurisdiction for Phase 2.