Canadian North’s COVID-19 support totalled $138 million: Transport Canada

Canadian North received $138 million in government support during much of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a spokesperson for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

Airline CEO Michael Rodyniuk said in an interview earlier this week he won’t disclose how much Canadian North received in pandemic-related support from the government.

He noted that while some other airlines reduced flights, Canadian North continued to provide essential travel and cargo service.

“There was some support for our activities through the COVID period,” Rodyniuk said.

“COVID has been more or less deemed to be over for almost a year now, and the subsidies that were provided by the government to help with the expenses of the airline, those also went away about a year ago.”

Asked if he could provide a dollar figure for those subsidies, Rodyniuk said he couldn’t.

“I don’t believe that that’s a publicly disclosed number,” he said.

Alghabra’s press secretary Nadine Ramadan, said Canadian North received $108.7 million in federal relief through the Remote Air Services Program from July 2020 to March 2022.

That program, which is now closed, gave provinces and territories the responsibility to allocate relief funding to specific airlines.

The airline also received support through other programs, such as a wage subsidy, which brought the total to $138 million from different levels of government, she added.

Ramadan also said Ottawa has provided the airline exemptions to some of the terms and conditions related to the 2019 merger of Canadian North and First Air. Both sides have been reviewing and discussing those terms.

Those conditions included no price increases for both passenger travel and cargo delivery beyond those related to operating costs, and no reductions to the weekly schedule options on all routes of the airlines’ combined network for seven years, among other restrictions.

“Such exemptions are currently in place,” Ramadan said.

“Transport Canada officials have maintained a constant dialogue with the company since the merger, and remain in communication to this day. The nature of those discussions is confidential.”

Rodyniuk shared a similar sentiment of collaboration.

“Transport Canada is always open and receptive to working with us, and we appreciate that, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to resolve any of these types of issues,” he said.

Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Nunatsiaq News