The Covid-19 pandemic is having 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.
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.
Remote communities are those that rely on air service as the only year-round mode of transportation. There are 34 remote communities in Northern Ontario, 28 of which do not have year-round road access and rely on small commercial air carriers for essential services and goods. Some communities may have limited access to seasonal ice roads or long and unreliable gravel roads.
Ontario to allocate funding
Under a new 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.
“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,” said transport minister Omar Alghabra.
“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.”
Additional funding could be provided and will depend on the needs of communities and the pace of recovery of air travel into remote communities.
“Ontario’s small air carriers play an essential role in connecting northern and remote communities with goods and critical services,” said Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s transport minister.
“Today’s announcement builds on our government’s ongoing investment and support through our remote and northern airports program, demonstrating our continued commitment to supporting communities in Northern Ontario during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.”