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Trudeau makes no guarantees as Canada's transit authorities appeal for aid

Last Updated May 13, 2020 at 1:24 pm PST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Thursday, May 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Summary

The prime minister has yet to guarantee federal help for Canada's struggling transit authorities amid the pandemic

TransLink has said it's losing about $75 million a month due to decreased ridership and loss of fares, revenue

Trudeau said while transit is municipal, provincial responsibility, feds have made significant investments in the past

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – If TransLink is banking on federal help to get through its COVID-19-related financial woes, the prime minister has yet to guarantee it.

“We’re going to have to adjust, and the federal government will be there to work with the provinces, including supporting them in their areas of jurisdiction in many cases,” Justin Trudeau said Tuesday when asked about Ottawa coming to the rescue.

He added that while transit is a provincial and municipal responsibility, the federal government has made significant investments into those systems in the past.

“In upgrading and strengthening transit systems across the country because we know it’s such a key part of both prosperity and moving forward in ways that make life affordable and fighting climate change at the same time for Canadians,” Trudeau said.

“We will be there to listen to concerns that Canadians are expressing and that different orders of governments are expressing on making sure that our reopening’s successful. We know that public transit and getting people to work is going to be an important part of our economy moving forward.”

TransLink has said it’s losing about $75 million a month as ridership remains low. Similar authorities across Canada, including the Toronto Transit Commission, are facing similar losses.

Last month, TransLink announced it was asking both the provincial and federal governments for help, suggesting the situation is so dire that service would be affected long after the pandemic is over.

However, TransLink reversed decisions last week to layoff about 1,500 employees and suspend more than 40 more bus routes by May 18, after the provincial government laid out its reopening plan.

The plan calls for a gradual reintroduction of services, including transit, with the second phase to begin following the Victoria Day long weekend.