The Honourable Senator Harder, Government Representative in the Senate
April 14, 2016
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: I will ask a question that I was hoping to ask of Minister Garneau yesterday but maybe didn’t have time because of the verbosity of some of my honourable colleagues.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Patterson: Air transportation is the only means of year- round access to most communities in the North. Indeed, in my home territory of Nunavut, there are no roads between communities or to Southern Canada. So the need to maintain safe and acceptable airports is vital to the well-being of northerners and the northern economy; yet the Airports Capital Assistance Program frankly has not provided significant funds for the territories.
The recently released Canada Transportation Act Review Report references a number of submissions to improve the safety of small northern and remote airports, yet no money was specifically promised to the North in the recent budget.
My questions are the following: Does the government plan to significantly increase funding for the Airports Capital Assistance Program, as recommended by the review? Will the department carve out a dedicated northern program with funding and eligibility criteria that recognize the unique challenges and exceptional needs of the North?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and assure him that I will ensure an appropriate response from Mr. Garneau and other appropriate government officials.
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on April 14, 2016)
The Government acknowledges the importance of small northern and remote airports for their communities. As such, we are actively looking at ways to address the current challenges in the context of the Canada Transportation Act Review.
Recently the Minister of Transport held a roundtable in Iqaluit on the “North” experience in order to hear from key industry players, systems users, academia and thinkers, and Indigenous groups on this important subject.
To date, over $81 million has been invested at territorial airports through the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP). This program provides federal funds to help eligible airports maintain and improve safety for the Canadian travelling public. Since the program’s inception in 1995, the ACAP has invested more than $736 million for 848 projects at 179 airports across the country.