By Naomi Szeben
The Corona virus has a significant impact on remote communities that depend on small air carriers for essential goods, services, and for 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 needs of these communities.
The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced a new agreement with the Government of Ontario to support essential air access to remote communities. “While we continue to work together to limit the spread of COVID-19, we must also ensure remote communities continue to have the air connectivity they need for essential goods and services, travel and business. This agreement with the Government of Ontario will allow for reliable air services to keep remote communities in Ontario connected to the rest of the country,” Minister Alghabra said in a press release.
The Government of Canada is contributing up to $11,134,000 for air services to remote communities to cover the period of July 1 to December 31, 2020. The Government of Ontario is investing $14.2 million to operate remote airports in 2020/21, including an additional $4 million this year to ensure continued safe operations during the pandemic.
Additional funding could be provided and will depend on the needs of communities and the pace of recovery of air travel into remote communities. In Northern Ontario, there are 34 remote communities, 28 of which do not have year-round road access and rely on small commercial air carriers for essential services and goods.
Under this agreement, the Government of Ontario will allocate funding to air operators to ensure the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services to these communities.