Canadian North’s COVID-19 support totalled $138 million: Transport Canada

Federal department holding ‘confidential’ discussions with airline about 2019 merger conditions

A Canadian North plane is seen here in Kugluktuk in December 2021. The airline received $138 million in COVID-19 pandemic relief, Transport Canada says. (File photo)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Canadian North received $138 million in government support during much of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a spokesperson for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

Airline CEO Michael Rodyniuk said in an interview earlier this week he won’t disclose how much Canadian North received in pandemic-related support from the government.

He noted that while some other airlines reduced flights, Canadian North continued to provide essential travel and cargo service.

“There was some support for our activities through the COVID period,” Rodyniuk said.

“COVID has been more or less deemed to be over for almost a year now, and the subsidies that were provided by the government to help with the expenses of the airline, those also went away about a year ago.”

Asked if he could provide a dollar figure for those subsidies, Rodyniuk said he couldn’t.

“I don’t believe that that’s a publicly disclosed number,” he said.

Alghabra’s press secretary Nadine Ramadan, said Canadian North received $108.7 million in federal relief through the Remote Air Services Program from July 2020 to March 2022.

That program, which is now closed, gave provinces and territories the responsibility to allocate relief funding to specific airlines.

The airline also received support through other programs, such as a wage subsidy, which brought the total to $138 million from different levels of government, she added.

Ramadan also said Ottawa has provided the airline exemptions to some of the terms and conditions related to the 2019 merger of Canadian North and First Air. Both sides have been reviewing and discussing those terms.

Those conditions included no price increases for both passenger travel and cargo delivery beyond those related to operating costs, and no reductions to the weekly schedule options on all routes of the airlines’ combined network for seven years, among other restrictions.

“Such exemptions are currently in place,” Ramadan said.

“Transport Canada officials have maintained a constant dialogue with the company since the merger, and remain in communication to this day. The nature of those discussions is confidential.”

Rodyniuk shared a similar sentiment of collaboration.

“Transport Canada is always open and receptive to working with us, and we appreciate that, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to resolve any of these types of issues,” he said.


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(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by WTF on

    $138 million over 2 years? What’s the breakdown of this amount? How much went to directors, management, and workers? Where is the report of the company to the public?

    • Posted by Inuk from Nunavik on

      $138 MIL , still bleeding ,yep , lets see the financial break down .

    • Posted by Not Even 2 Years on

      About a year and 9 months, works out to somewhere around $215,000 per day. Plus there’s the question of whether or not this includes the money from the GN, which is not clear.

    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Rightly or not, Cdn North is privately owned. Hence none of your business re the financial statements

      • Posted by Inuit on

        “Privately owned” but the people who own it are supposed to represent Inuit, and as such are accountable to their electorate.
        I day supposed, because at the end of the day there is so much corruption at the “highest” levels of government (Makivvik and GN)

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        Indeed they are privately owned company, however their majority shareholders are Nunavut and Nunavik Inuit Birthright organizations. Canadian North’s lack of transparency around the cost of their operations, their profit margins and what and how much is being paid to whom has always been shocking, especially since they operate using funds that are meant for the Inuit of those regions.

  2. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    hot damn. what a scary amount.

    what is worse? this amount or the amount of unused tickets from Medical Travel People who fly to Yellowknife, Edmonton, Iqaluit, Winnipeg and Ottawa who do not show up but the Airlines will rebook them on the next flight? Are those tickets lost because the person does not show up and they have to pay for another ticket home or does the Airline rebook them with credit?

    seems so many flights up north they are paging people in the ATB yet some do not show up.

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      I can’t tell you if it is the case today but I do know that in the past all GN tickets, that is Medical and Duty travel, were fully refundable, and as the GN is the largest customer all of their tickets were at a discounted contract rate.

      Canadian North does not get a windfall off of no-show Medical patients, and under the contract could not charge any penalty, cancellation, rebooking, or no-show fees. Not being able to do this actually costs the airline substantially as there is a high number of noshows. FYI – also under the contract patients cannot be bumped for any reason.

  3. Posted by Is this on top of the GN funding? on

    Is this in addition to the $109 million + $22 million the GN gave them during covid?

  4. Posted by scams on

    Canadian North also received $25 million from the GN in “Covid-19 Financial Relief” in 2021-22.

  5. Posted by What on

    PJ, what is the GN plan to escape from this abusive relationship?

  6. Posted by 138,000,000 on

    The equivalent of about $3400 for every man woman and child in Nunavut! The nerve of this airline with its tin cup. The nerve of Quebec and NWT Inuit gouging Nunavummuit, and Inuit as well! WE NEED A PUBLIC INQUIRY

    • Posted by Devil’s Avocado on

      I think you mean an aviation grade aluminum cup.

    • Posted by Market size on

      Gouging by other groups? There has been many offers for one of the Nunavut Inuit organizations to invest but I would imagine they didn’t because airlines aren’t a great business. It’s nice to see a monopoly and and think wow they are taking it in. A monopoly over a population of 40000 is like just owning boardwalk

  7. Posted by Market size on

    It’s amazing to see all the experts commenting. You realize Nunavut has a population less than the size of some towns in the south that have no airports. The Baffin has 12 spread out over a huge area the cost to operate to move 18 people on a 3 hour flight to a community is very high

    All the Facebook critics like to post the price of a last minute ticket (usually one of the last seats on the plane). This model of prices rising as the date of travel get closers is industry standard.

    Go back to your 2018 lowest economy air fare that you use you your taxes. Ottawa to Iqaluit return of booked in advance would be about $900 currently. Which is less than 2018 this is made possible but the power the GN used with its buying power to lower the rate for individuals

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Tickets to Ottawa during the height of the Christmas rush were $4,000 apiece and that was booking two weeks in advance. Canadian North is playing fast and loose with the rules set out for it by Feds and they need to be brought to task.

      • Posted by Market size on

        Of course for things like Christmas people book further in advance and those discounts seats would have been bought up and revenue management kicks in. That is an industry standard practice.

    • Posted by Punching Power on

      Yes and no other government is flying the amount of people in and out of Nunavut for things like medical travel, driving the volume up considerably. Not an expert but until i can read the books i don’t buy them crying poor.

  8. Posted by Eyes and ears on

    Here’s a question no one comment on on below of $138 million,

    What have NWT/Nunavik contributed besides Nunavut gave this $138 millions?,

    A leader just handed out as acted like a boss who has the power without asking what other two territories contributed,

    Questions needs answered from our NU Government.


  9. Posted by mik on

    how they got away with price fixing baffles me, they clearly were in talks when New airline was trying to operate in Iqaluit to Ottawa… but magically first air and caNADIAN north both has their seats priced at 250.

    Monopolies are major issue in the north.

    • Posted by Hermann on

      Agreed monopolies don’t work and are harmful

      Examples in NU

      – airlines
      – sealift
      – telecomms
      – groceries
      – housing

    • Posted by The Old Trapper on

      I can tell you for a fact that there was never any price fixing between First Air and Canadian North as that would be illegal. I can tell you that both companies used Airline Tariff Publishing Company to file their fares, and ATPCO has a program where you can monitor the competition, and this is done 3 times a day.

      If your competitor files a new seat sale at 08:00 am you could match their fare by noon. Aviation has always been price first, then schedule second, and service third. Neither carrier ever wanted to be more expensive than their competition.

  10. Posted by Shareholders on

    The ones who reaped the benefits were the shareholders. Heck even northmart paid covid pay to staff that worked during the work from home phases. Canadian did not do that for their staff who were more at risk then anyone. Makivik gets the big bonuses, so ask them where they spent their covid pay

  11. Posted by Flyer on

    This really doesn’t look good on Makivvik Corp. president Pita Aatami!

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