Government of Canada announces new measures to support essential air access to remote communities

News release

August 6, 2020              Ottawa              Transport Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis in the aviation industry’s ability to service communities, which is having a significant impact on the remote communities that depend on small air carriers for essential goods, services, and 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.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau; the Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honourable Daniel Vandal; and the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Marc Miller, announced new measures to support essential air access to remote communities. These include:

  • Seeking bilateral agreements with provinces and territories to ensure continuity of service for at least six months.
  • Establishing a $75-million funding program for the federal contribution for the first six months and maintaining these essential services through an investment of up to $174 million over 18 months, if needed.

Additional funding will depend on the needs of communities and the pace of recovery of air travel into remote communities.

This funding, in partnership with contributions by the provincial and territorial governments, will ensure minimum levels of essential transportation services to remote communities, and ensure the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services.

Under these agreements, the provinces and territories would determine minimum essential services to remote communities and administer a program with air operators to deliver the required level of essential services. A fixed funding amount will be allocated to each jurisdiction that has remote communities based on historical passenger volumes.


“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. Our work with the provinces and territories on these measures will allow for reliable air services to keep remote communities connected to the rest of the country.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

“From day one of this pandemic, our government has been working with partners to respond to the unique needs of northern and remote communities. This support is positive news for all northerners and is a result of continued collaboration and partnership. This will ensure supply chains remain open to those living in isolated Nutrition North Canada eligible communities, who depend on air transportation for the regular delivery of perishable nutritious foods, personal hygiene products and other essential items.”

Minister of Northern Affairs
The Honourable Daniel Vandal

“Flights are an essential link for fly-in and remote First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. This funding will go a long way in ensuring that fly-in communities have the essential services, goods and equipment they need to prevent and respond to any outbreak of COVID-19. Canada will keep working hard to ensure continuity of services.”

Minister of Indigenous Services
The Honourable Marc Miller

Quick facts

  • Remote communities are those that rely on air service as the only year-round mode of transportation.

  • There are 140 communities with airports that were considered remote while designing this program.

  • Some communities may have limited access to seasonal ice roads or long and unreliable gravel roads, ferries or remote railway.

Associated links


Livia Belcea
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Allison St. Jean
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Vanessa Adams
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Page details

Date modified: