ATU Canada encouraged by federal emergency transit funding announcement but says needs to be permanent

OTTAWA - ATU Canada is encouraged by the announcement of $750 million in emergency transit funding made yesterday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland but calls this a “band aid solution” and says more is needed for future funding crises likely to face public transit. The announcement came with two caveats; however, that provinces match the federal funding and that they work with cities more quickly to increase housing supply.

“Yesterday’s announcement from the federal government to the tune of $750 million for transit funding is encouraging and welcomed” said ATU Canada President John Di Nino.  “We hope provincial governments do their part in matching the investments in transit as well, unlike in the first phase of stimulus money where some provinces opted out.”

ATU Canada along with the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Keep Transit Moving Coalition have been lobbying for financial assistance from the start of the pandemic on the urgent dollars required to sustain safe, reliable, accessible, and affordable transit. At the beginning of the pandemic, they scored an important victory for transit users and workers, securing over $2.1 billion in emergency transit funding through the Safe Restart Agreement. This can be seen as another important victory.

President Di Nino, however, says that there needs to be a more permanent fund in place and that municipalities and public transit advocates should not have to keep coming to the government to ensure the survival of the country’s public transit systems. He also notes that transit workers and riders need to be at the table when these discussions happen.

“These continuous band-aid solutions offer no thought process for dedicated operational funding from all levels of government for this vital service and the foundation in re- building robust economies and tackling a just transition in the climate change fight,” said Di Nino. “In the days to come as we prepare to meet with Minister Freeland, we hope to discuss ongoing dedicated operational funding as part of prebudget submissions with a real plan to developing a National Transit Strategy for public transit and intercity bus services that would serve all communities across Canada.”


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