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. 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 Honorable Marc Garneau, the Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honorable Daniel Vandal, and the Minister of Highways and Public Works for the Government of Yukon, the Honorable Richard Mostyn, announced a new agreement with the Government of Yukon to support essential air access to remote communities.
The Government of Canada is contributing up to $7 million to ensure continuity of service for at least six months and up to 18 months if necessary. The Government of Yukon is also extending fee waivers totaling up to $234,000, through to the end of March 2021.
“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,” stated Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau. “Our agreement with the Government of Yukon will allow for reliable air services to keep remote communities in the Yukon connected to the rest of the country.”
Under this agreement, the Government of Yukon will determine minimum levels of essential services to remote communities and allocate funding to air operators to ensure the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services to these communities.
“Aviation is critical to our modern northern lifestyle, and our government is working with our federal partners to support Yukon’s aviation industry to keep our communities connected,” said Richard Mostyn, Yukon’s Minister of Highways and Public Works. “Throughout the pandemic, Yukon’s air carriers have ensured the transport of essential goods, medical supplies and health care workers to and from the territory. This funding will ensure they can continue to provide services that Yukoners rely on.”
This funding is for the period of July 1 to December 31, 2020. Additional funding will depend on the needs of communities and the pace of recovery of air travel into remote communities.
Remote communities are those that rely on air service as the only year-round mode of transportation.
There are 28 communities with airports or aerodromes in Yukon that are considered remote. Some communities may have limited access to seasonal ice roads or long and unreliable gravel roads.