Statement from Nate Wallace, Clean Transportation Program Manager

Ottawa| Traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg People – In recent comments covered by LaPresse, Prime Minister Trudeau and federal officials announced that they are delaying the Permanent Public Transit Fund, giving the excuse that they are running out of projects to fund.

The federal government’s claim is entirely backwards. This is because, in reality, provinces and municipalities don’t undertake the official process to submit project proposals to the federal government unless there is money available to fund them.

The idea that there are no public transit projects to fund shows that the federal government doesn’t understand the deep challenges and core needs of public transit systems. This indifference ultimately undermines the power of public transit to reduce carbon emissions.

The suggestion that cities should wait until existing public transit expansion projects – that take a decade or longer to complete – are finished before asking for any additional funding is no way to run a transit system, and no way to run a transit program. While the federal government may wish to ignore core service needs, public transit systems cannot afford to.

For example, replacing Toronto’s aging subway cars is a mission-critical need. Subway cars on TTC’s Line 2 carry over half a million people every weekday. They have reached the end of their life and replacements are being held up because they are waiting for federal dollars. Since the Permanent Public Transit Fund has been delayed, there is nowhere for the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario, who have already chipped in, to submit their application for federal funding.

The province of British Columbia has asked for the federal government to step up and fund their fair share of TransLink’s 10-year expansion plan in Metro Vancouver. The province of British Columbia’s ability to meet ambitious climate targets to reduce polluting car travel hinges on the successful deployment of this plan. However, there is no money in existing federal programs for this historic service expansion.

The province of Quebec and Quebec Mayors have both demanded the federal government accelerate their public transit program. Quebec transit systems face significant financial difficulties. They face the key challenge of improving day-to-day public transit frequency and reliability, to bring back riders and meet climate goals. Funding to address these challenges are deliberately excluded from eligibility under federal programs. It is extremely disingenuous to imply there is no demand for operations funding just because the federal government excludes it from funding eligibility.

Canada deserves federal leadership on public transit. With these comments, the Prime Minister has demonstrated that he continues to be absent.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry, and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate, and healthy communities.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Karishma Porwal, Environmental Defence,