The global COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for Northern and remote communities that depend on supply chains remaining intact for the delivery of essential goods and services, medical care and transportation needs in their communities. As the pandemic evolves, the Government of Canada continues to work with partners, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities and the air industry, to address the unique needs of these communities.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, and the Minister of Finance for the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Caroline Wawzonek, and Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, announced that the Government of Canada is providing an additional $12.5 million to the Government of the Northwest Territories to continue the support of essential air services for remote communities in the Northwest Territories.
The funding announced today is in addition to the $17.1 million provided to the Government of the Northwest Territories in 2020 to maintain essential air services to remote communities.
This financial contribution will help maintain minimum levels of air transportation services to remote communities in the Northwest Territories to ensure continued access to essential goods and services, including community resupply of food and medical supplies.
The Government of Canada will continue to work collaboratively with provinces and territories to ensure essential transportation and supply chains for Northern and remote communities are protected for the health, safety and well-being of all Canadians.
“Our government understands the importance of reliable air services in sustaining the social and economic well-being of our northern and remote communities. This investment will help ensure that, as we work towards recovery and travel restart post pandemic, people living and working in remote Northwest Territories communities will continue to have access to air services for delivery of essential goods and services, for business and trade, and for essential travel between communities in the Northwest Territories. We are pleased to be working with our territorial and Indigenous partners and the air industry to support communities as we start to build back better.”
The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport
“Our government recognizes the vital importance of transportation links in maintaining and strengthening supply chains across the North. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on the transportation sector in the North and Arctic, this investment will ensure communities in the Northwest Territories remain connected and supported with access to essential goods and health services when they need it the most.”
The Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs
“We recognize the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on people and the economy and that certain sectors, such as the air transportation industry, have suffered tremendously. The plunge in air travel demand because of the coronavirus and travel restrictions aimed to stop its spread have put a harsh financial burden on an industry so critical in the north. We want to provide relief for this important industry as it struggles to remain in operation and as the NWT continues to depend on them for commerce and connectivity.”
The Honourable Caroline Wawzonek
Minister of Finance
Government of the Northwest Territories
“Airports throughout the Northwest Territories are important to residents and businesses alike, many of whom depend on their local airports for personal travel and community resupply, but also for access to routine and emergency medical care in larger centres. Never is this more important as our country battles the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to reopen our economies.”
Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories
Under the funding agreements for the Remote Air Services Program, a fixed amount of funding is allocated to each province or territory that has remote communities. Provinces and territories are responsible for allocating the funding to specific air carriers.
Remote communities are those that rely on air service as the only year-round mode of transportation.
There are 22 remote communities in the Northwest Territories that were considered remote while designing this program.
Some communities may have limited access to seasonal ice roads or long and unreliable gravel roads.