Government of Canada announces first federal fund dedicated to rural transit solutions
Ottawa, Ontario, Monday, March 29, 2021 – The Government of Canada is working to secure Canadians’ health and safety, rebuild businesses, and promote jobs, growth and renewed investment as we build toward economic recovery and a net-zero emissions future. A key part of this plan is making historic investments in public transit across the country. For Canadians living in rural, remote and small communities, improving the way people access goods and services, get to and from work, to medical appointments, and to various destinations, presents unique challenges that require unique solutions.
Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Rural Economic Development, announced $250 million over five years to help address the transit needs of Canadians living in rural, remote and small communities. The Government of Canada is committed to working with these communities to develop rural transit solutions, and to providing the funding to make those solutions a reality.
From on-demand services, to publicly-owned, electric vehicle ride shares, and volunteer community car-pooling, Canadians outside urban centres have been finding innovative ways to get to the jobs and the goods and services they require. Developed with the goal of creating equity amongst communities across the country, this fund will be the first federal fund dedicated to rural transit.
This funding builds on progress made under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, which has supported transit projects in smaller communities, from a bus in Selkirk, Manitoba, to a Handi-Van in Fort Frances, Ontario, which helps seniors get around town with accessible options. The Government of Canada has heard loud and clear from rural, remote and small communities that more funding is needed to support unique transportation solutions. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so a flexible, dedicated Rural Transit Fund will help fund creative projects that address the unique needs of communities.
The new $250 million fund, part of the nearly $15 billion public transit investment announced last February by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will help rural, remote and small towns build vibrant communities where people want to live, work and play.
Funding to improve and expand public transit is a key part of Canada’s strengthened Climate Plan. It creates jobs, supports economic growth, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.
“Canadians need public transit to help them get to and from work and school, to medical appointments and shopping, and to soccer and hockey practices. The first ever Rural Transit Fund recognizes that Canadians living in rural and remote areas and in small communities have unique transportation challenges that require flexible, tailored solutions. We’ll work with communities to find the best transit solutions and provide the support to make them a reality, creating local jobs and growth, helping to tackle climate change, and building more inclusive communities.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
“The pandemic has reminded us how vital our connections are. Our internet connections, our roads, bridges, waterways and community centres keep us connected and the government has invested $10.6 billion in funding for 5,349 projects since 2015 in small communities across Canada to strengthen them all. Strengthening and building rural transportation networks is the government’s next step in creating jobs and improving health and safety of Canadians. To the women, seniors, parents, leaders and youth who asked for rural connections: the government has heard you. We are moving forward.”
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Developmen
"Lack of transportation in rural areas compounds the effects of aging and poverty by limiting access to medical and essential life needs. The problem is complex because of the vast area to be served and the reality that rarely are two or more people travelling to the same location at the same time. Door-to-door volunteer driver programs like Rural Rides are an affordable way to fill the need for transportation in rural areas, offering people a ride where and when they need it."
Kelly Taylor, Executive Manager, Rural Rides
“Wellington County’s RIDE WELL is a rural transportation pilot that serves our large geographic area with a low population density. Through provincial transportation funding, Wellington County has been able to test this innovative rural transit option, while providing residents with affordable transportation. RIDE WELL enhances the lives of our residents helping them access essential services, travel to work and participate in the community. We are thrilled to see this funding for rural transportation, and look forward to the new rural transit solutions that develop across Canada, benefitting residents and supporting local economies.”
Kelly Linton, Wellington County Warden, RIDE WELL
One in five Canadians live in rural communities. Rural communities in Canada account for nearly 30% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Through the Investing in Canada plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.
Since 2015, the Government of Canada has invested more than $13.6 billion in over 1,300 transit projects.
In February 2021, the Prime Minister announced nearly $15 billion in available funding for new public transit infrastructure projects over the next eight years, with a permanent $3 billion annually to begin in 2026-27. This announcement recognized that more was needed for rural communities.
These investments will help Canadians living in rural and remote areas travel to and from work more easily and access essential services, by working with rural, remote, and Indigenous communities to identify and create transit solutions that meet their needs.
The new Rural Transit Fund will provide $250 million over 5 years, starting in 2021, and will support the planning and deployment of innovative mobility solutions in rural communities.
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
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