Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that a $19 billion “safe-restart agreement” has been reached between the federal government and the provinces to help Canada’s economies restart and rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is most notable in this economic restart package is that it will include long-awaited operating funding for transit systems across the country.
Prime Minister Trudeau named transit as one of seven priority areas identified in the new plan and mentioned federal relief funding for transit systems that will include some form of provincial match.
Although there are many details still to be confirmed, today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, and welcome news for all of us across the TransLink enterprise along with our counterparts from coast to coast.
We have been collectively advocating for federal aid for a long time. It is reaffirming to hear the Prime Minister acknowledge that transit in Canada is important to both ensuring essential travel now and supporting our recovery following the pandemic.
Today’s remarks from Prime Minister Trudeau echo those of Premier John Horgan and the Government of British Columbia, who pledged in early May to help support TransLink throughout BC’s Restart Plan.
During his press conference this afternoon, Premier John Horgan applauded this agreement and the partnership the Province of BC has agreed upon with the Federal Government. The Premier indicated that approximately $600 million of funding is needed for transit in British Columbia between both TransLink and BC Transit. He noted that there is no cap for funding, and should more funding be needed, the Province of BC will match every federal dollar with a provincial dollar.
These commitments from senior levels of government send a strong message about the essential nature of the services we provide for hundreds of thousands of people in Metro Vancouver. While this is good news, we still have a lot of work to do with the Province of BC to understand the details and the extent to which this will help us fill our deep budget gap.
With the support of the provincial and federal governments, along with the Mayors’ Council, the TransLink enterprise can continue to focus on providing safe, reliable transit services as British Columbians return to work. In doing so, TransLink will play a vital role in helping to rebuild our region’s economy.
Chief Executive Officer