The Government of Canada has reached a new agreement with the Manitoba Government to support essential air access to remote communities in Northern Manitoba.
Up to $12.03 million will be provided to five air operators to ensure the continued supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services to these communities.
Funding from the Canadian government will cover air services to address losses from July 1 to Dec. 31 last year.
“Protecting Manitobans is critical and remote communities need to continue to receive goods and services that they rely on,” said Manitoba’s Minister of Economic Development and Jobs Ralph Eichler in a press release.
“This program will ensure communities which depend on scheduled air service for the supply of food, medical supplies, and other essential items will get the support they need.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted remote communities that depend on air service for essential goods, services, and access in and out of the community.
The agreement will maintain scheduled transportation service to 21 remote communities that rely on air service as the only year-round mode of transportation.
“We are proud to work with the federal government, air industry and Indigenous partners to support the unique needs of our remote communities,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke.
“In regions where there are no roads connecting communities, air services must remain operational as residents depend on this service for essential goods and access in and out of their communities. This partnership will help to ensure there will be no disruptions to services in our northern communities.”
Additional funding will be provided to the communities depending on their needs and the pace of air travel recovery into remote communities.
Since Apr. 22, Indigenous Services Canada has been flying health care professionals to and from fly-in First Nations communities in Manitoba.
Last August, the federal government announced that it will seek agreements with provinces and territories to ensure 140 northern and remote communities across Canada had adequate airline service for at least six months.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas praised Eichler and Clarke for their efforts in securing support for the airlines that service First Nations and remote communities in Manitoba.
“For our remote and isolated First Nations, the airlines provide a lifeline to the outside world, ensuring that goods and services are transported in and out of communities while providing critical medical evacuations as required,” said Dumas.
“These services and supports are especially critical at this time as First Nations in Manitoba face an unprecedented threat to their individual and collective well-being during this second wave of COVID-19.”
The five air operators approved for the funding are Amik Aviation, Calm Air, Missinippi Air, Northway Aviation and Perimeter Aviation.
“Ensuring that people and cargo can get in and out of remote northern Manitoba communities is at the core of what our airlines do and we’ve been proud to maintain this essential service since the start of the pandemic,” said Mike Pyle, owner of Perimeter Aviation and Calm Air.
“I’m pleased the federal and provincial governments are partnering with our airlines to assist in mitigating losses to ensure they can continue to be there to support Manitobans as we all weather the rest of this crisis.”
Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun