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Government of Nunavut gives millions in financial support to airlines

The Government of Nunavut (GN) will be giving financial assistance to airlines in order to maintain airline service for medical travel and critical workers during Covid-19. In total, Calm Air and Canadian North airlines will be receiving financial support to the tune of $24 million for April, May and June.

Canadian North will receive $9.81 million in additional assistance, making the total $15.65 million over the three month period. Calm Air will receive $6.387 million in additional assistance, making the total $8.987 million over the three month period.

“As restrictions start getting lifted across the country, we want to make sure that our airlines also have the stability,” said Finance Minister George Hickes, during the May 8 press conference.

The GN will renegotiate with the airlines at the end of June, said the minister.

Canadian North will receive $9.81 million in additional assistance for the months of April, May and June, announces Finance Minister George Hickes, during the June 8 press conference in Iqaluit. Photo courtesy of Canadian North

“The complications of the negotiations up to now has helped because it has really solidified the numbers and identifying the needs, so any further agreements I would anticipate being a lot easier to accomplish,” explained Hickes.

Hickes also took the opportunity to reiterate Dr. Michael Patterson’s message from the May 28 press conference.

Nunavut’s strict border measures are likely to be the last of the public health measures to be lifted or altered, said Hickes.

“Right now travel into to Nunavut represents the single biggest risk for introducing Covid-19,” he said.

On May 28, Patterson said the following four conditions would influence decisions to alter the current border measures: 1) development of a vaccine for Covid-19, 2) development or discovery of an effective treatment for Covid-19, 3) an indication that Covid-19 is under control in neighbouring jusrisdictions; beyond decreased Covid-19 cases, it would involve minimal and contained community transmission and 4) sustainable and ongoing diagnostic capacity in every community in Nunavut.

Although in-territory travel has been possible since June 1, non-essential travel outside of the territory is still not recommended at this time.

However, the GN and Government of Northwest Territories are presently still working out the logistics of a potential travel bubble between the two territories.

When asked whether the travel bubble will exist if there is a single case of Covid-19 in either territory, Patterson replied, “the consensus is if there's one case in either territory, then the bubble is closed at least until things settle down.”

Presently, Nunavut remains Covid-free. There are 119 people currently under investigation for Covid-19.

Nunavummiut returning to the territory must undergo a 14-day self-isolation period in a GN designed hotel down south. To make a reservation to stay at one of the isolation hotels, Nunavummiut can email