Five Northwestern Ontario airports to share more than $4.14M from federal government to maintain regional connectivity and jobs

News release

Targeted FedNor support for regional transportation ecosystem in Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Red Lake, Kenora and Fort Frances regions

August 13, 2021 – Sioux Lookout, ON – Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario – FedNor

Regional air transportation is crucial to local economic growth, the movement of goods and the connectivity of Canadians across the country. The pandemic has had major impacts on regional air transportation ecosystems, affecting communities and local businesses from coast to coast to coast.

The Government of Canada’s Regional Air Transportation Initiative (RATI), launched in March 2021, supports access to air transportation and regional ecosystems. In particular, it enables the continuation of existing air routes and ensures airports remain operational and able to contribute to regional economic growth, while adapting to new post-COVID-19 realities and requirements.

Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, along with Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary for FedNor, today announced more than $4.14 million in financial support for five Northwestern Ontario airports. Of the total, Sioux Lookout Airport will receive $1,892,640, Dryden Regional Airport $885,020, Red Lake Airport $702,578, Kenora Airport Authority $439,512, and Fort Frances Airport $225,705. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor

These non-repayable contributions will help mitigate the financial pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting the operations of all five airports for a one-year period. The projects are expected to help maintain 32 jobs across the region.

Regional air transportation is key to the economic development of communities and businesses right across Canada. It is essential to connecting Canadians living in rural and remote communities to urban centres, delivering Canadian goods to the global market and welcoming international visitors to all parts of the country, when it is safe to do so.


“It is important to protect our regional air transportation ecosystems for the thousands of workers employed by this sector and for the many businesses and communities that depend on it. We know that air connectivity to all regions is essential to healthy, inclusive economic growth, and supporting it is part of our plan to build back a stronger, more resilient economy.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor

“Today’s investment of more than $4.14 million will help secure the ongoing operations of five key small airports in Northwestern Ontario that serve their respective business communities and provide critical air access to outlying regions. I am proud that our government continues to make strategic investments to ensure that our economy recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebounds even stronger than ever before.”
- Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor

“Today’s announcement will help the Fort Frances, Red Lake, Kenora, Dryden and Sioux Lookout airports land on their feet and reconnect family friends and businesses following the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also allow them to be in a position to play a meaningful role in the region's economic recovery in the months to come. This investment of more than $4.14 million will help not only ensure the commercial viability of the airports but also help maintain and grow critical economic development infrastructure in Northwestern Ontario.”
- Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament, Thunder Bay—Rainy River

“The Sioux Lookout Airport is an important economic driver for our municipality and beyond serving as a regional transportation centre for people, goods and services that are distributed to the surrounding region, including 29 remote First Nation communities. It is also a critical transportation hub for professional services, including medical personnel employed by 17 nursing stations located throughout several of the remote northern communities. I would like to thank the Government of Canada and FedNor for this critical funding for our key community asset.”
- Doug Lawrance, Mayor of the Municipality of Sioux Lookout

Quick facts

  • The RATI, administered by the regional development agencies (RDAs), has a national budget of $206 million.

  • The Initiative supports regional air ecosystems—which include regional air carriers and airports, as well as SMEs and non-profit organizations—in developing and implementing enhanced services for improved regional connectivity.

  • The RATI complements measures implemented by Transport Canada.

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Barclay Babcock
Communications Officer

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