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Government relief offered to Northern air carriers

Ottawa, Queen's Park making $25 million available to airlines serving remote communities
North Star Air (Supplied)

Small air carriers serving remote First Nation communities in Northern Ontario are available to receive $11.1 million in pandemic-related support from Ottawa and Queen's Park.

The funding is to ensure the flow of essential goods and services to these communities that rely on air carriers to provide access to employment, health care, education, justice, child and family services, and social services.

"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," said federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

The province said is spending $14.2 million to operate remote airports, including an additional $4 million this year to support continued safe operations during COVID-19.

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The Ministry of Transportation owns and operates 29 airports, 27 of which support remote First Nation communities.There are 34 remote communities in Northern Ontario, 28 of which do not have year-round road access and rely on small commercial air carriers for essential services and goods.

"Small air carriers provide remote northern First Nations communities with a vital connection to critical supplies and essential services, including health care," said Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford in a news release.

"This funding will help ensure the unique and immediate needs of these communities are continuously met during COVID-19."

This funding is part of our transportation plan for Northern Ontario, Connecting the North, which clearly indicates how we will provide reliable transportation to meet the unique needs of the region and help ensure people have access to critical services," said Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney.