TORONTO May 12, 2020—Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the Federal Government has granted billions of dollars in aid to ensure individuals and businesses survive the financial impacts of the crisis. The government has even bailed out non-essential industries, including Air Canada; yet, they have ignored the transit industry’s repeated calls for emergency relief.

Canadians, from students to seniors across the country, may have limited transportation options and rely on public transit as their primary means of transportation.

Probe Research surveyed the country to learn the views of the general public, including transit riders. The results provide a clear consensus – 78% of Canadians surveyed support the Federal Government providing $5 billion in emergency funding for public transit services. Also, an astounding 91% agree that governments have a responsibility to ensure people everywhere can access safe, reliable, and affordable public transit. 

Without help from the Federal Government, public transit is in a dire situation. Transit services in cities across Canada have experienced a 75-85% decrease in riders and a severe drop in farebox revenue, leaving many transit agencies at the brink of bankruptcy. “This situation is real and needs immediate attention,” said ATU President, John Di Nino.  “Transit agencies have already announced over 3,000 layoffs to date, and more are expected as the effects of the pandemic continue to unfold.”

“Why do big private corporations get bailed out while public transit is left to crumble?” This is the big question the ATU has been asking. “We’ve sounded the alarm bells about the public transit crisis, but the Federal Government has failed to take action,” said Di Nino. “This government continues to ignore that public transit is a critical service for many Canadians.  It’s the public transit system that continues to move a million people per day during this pandemic – many of whom are frontline workers in every industry from healthcare to grocery stores.”

ATU points out that the $5 billion in funds required to bail out the public transit industry, are funds previously budgeted to build more transit infrastructure, so the money is already there in the Canada Infrastructure Bank. “It would be a waste to build more transit infrastructure if the existing system is at risk of collapse,” Di Nino highlights. “These funds should be redirected to the municipalities and must only be used for municipal transit operations. This dedicated funding needs to flow directly and immediately.”

“Canadians have spoken loud and clear – it’s time for the Federal Government to step up and support public transit!” concluded Di Nino.

Between May 1-6, 2020, Probe Research surveyed 1500 Canadians living in cities and urban centres across Canada. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8%, 19 times out of 20. 

The Amalgamated Transit Union is made up of 34,000 transit professionals in nine Canadian provinces. They represent vehicle operators, maintenance staff, paratransit operations, clerical staff, dispatchers, administrative professionals and workers in the over-the-road motor coach industry. The union was founded in 1892 and represents workers in Canada’s urban, suburban and rural communities. 


Media Contact:

John Di Nino
ATU Canada President
Phone: 416-938-0746