Historic Government Announcement Falls Short as They Neglect to Address Operational Funding, Transit Union Says


February 10 2021

OTTAWA - ATU Canada, Canada’s largest transit union, expressed their disappointment this morning with the so-called historic announcement from the federal government. Although almost $15 billion was announced for public transit funding over the next eight years, none of it is dedicated operational funding.  

The government’s announcement includes $14.9 billion over the next eight years into public transit projects across Canada. In addition to that, they also announced the start of an annual $3 billion fund for transit - but only for capital funding. When pressed by journalists around a clear funding breakdown, Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine McKenna was unclear and did not provide any details. 

“While we are encouraged by the recent announcement for stable capital funding, the case remains clear - we need dedicated operational funding for the continued survival of a safe, reliable, affordable and accessible public transit system and we need it now.” said John Di Nino, National President of ATU Canada.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, ATU Canada, along with transit experts and community groups have been calling for an investment of $400 million per month into emergency operational funding to cover losses at the farebox. A recent poll done by EKOS research and commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation found that there is overwhelming support for this. 73% of Canadians support the ask for stable, long term funding for public transit in the form of operational dollars. 

Although the federal government provided over $2 billion in operational funding through the Safe Restart Agreement with provinces in July, it only addresses the current shortfall and does not tackle the ongoing concern. Further, it was made clear that this was only one-time funding, causing concern for the future of public transit. 

“Operational funding is  what the transit industry needs to survive right now during this critical recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic especially with the massive loss in farebox revenue,” said ATU’s International President John Costa. “The government knows this and this is what transit workers and transit allies have been demanding for many years and what we expect.”


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