Ontario Increases Transit Support for the Region of Durham

WHITBY, ON – Ontario is providing $8,208,516 in funding to help the Region of Durham address the financial impacts on its transit system from the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is in addition to the $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities continue to deliver critical transit services. During the peak of the pandemic, ridership dropped up to 90% of normal levels for some of Ontario’s transit systems, which resulted in significant financial impacts for municipalities.

“Public transit systems like Durham Region Transit have been hit hard by the pandemic, with significant declines in their revenue from reduced ridership,” said Lindsey Park, MPP Durham. “This additional funding to Durham Region under the Safe Restart Program is the second round of transit funding from the province to actively support the sustainability of our local transit system during this challenging time.”

“This is great news for Whitby,” said Lorne Coe, MPP for Whitby and Chief Government Whip. “COVID-19 continues to impact our transit system and this additional funding will ensure local transit can continue to operate and provide a vital service for those who need it.”

“It is critical that Durham region continues supporting the residents of Pickering Uxbridge and provides vital transit services that our residents depend on,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge.

The additional $150 million in provincial funding means that there is a total of $650 million in funding still available to municipalities up to December 31, 2021, with extensions to December 2022 granted on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Ontario is calling on the federal government to match the additional funding announced today to help ensure municipal financial needs continue to be met.

“Recognizing the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our municipalities, our government is providing $8.2 to Durham Region to assist with the financial impacts on our transit system,” said Rod Phillips, Member of Provincial Parliament for Ajax. “With this funding, Ajax residents will be able to continue to access safe and reliable transit system for years to come”.

“We know that municipal transit services have been affected by COVID-19,” said MPP David Piccini. “This important funding helps ensure a safe return to service and is yet another example of our Government working collaboratively with our municipal partners to support them during these trying times.”

“This funding will support the needs of our municipal partners and transit users in Brock Township and across HKLB,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. “The City of Kawartha Lakes will also be receiving an additional $93,401 in funding through the Safe Restart Agreement to deliver critical transit services and get residents where they need to go safely.”

As part of the Safe Restart Agreement funding, municipalities need to work with the province to explore options to ensure local transit is safe, sustainable, affordable and integrated, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To support this work, Ontario is allowing municipalities to use Safe Restart Agreement funding towards new initiatives to make it easier and more affordable to travel between different transit systems, like adding capacity for on-demand micro transit and increasing fare and service integration across the region.

“John Henry Regional Chair and CEO of Durham Region welcomes this significant additional investment of $8.2 million from the Province of Ontario for our Durham Region Transit operations. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement funding, we will continue to work with the province to ensure that our local transit is safe and sustainable, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. It’s through partnerships with the province such as this, that we can maintain one of the best public transit services in the country.”

“We heard from municipalities and we are responding to their need for more support as COVID-19 continues to result in lost revenue and additional costs for transit systems,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Transit operators have done an incredible job keeping transit operating during this challenging time, and this support will help ensure there is reliable transportation for people can get to work or pick up essential items.”

“We are committed to supporting our municipal partners in their mission to build back transit ridership when we come out of this pandemic,” said Associate Minister Kinga Surma. “We recognize there’s an opportunity now to work with our partners to ensure transit is safe, sustainable and affordable, both during COVID-19 and as we begin to
recover.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement is providing up to a total $4 billion in emergency funding to help Ontario’s municipalities deliver critical services.
  • The first phase of Safe Restart funding flowed $700 million to municipalities in 2020 and to date $1.5 billion funding has been allocated.