When the National Airports Policy was introduced in the mid-1990s, a founding principle was that most of Canada’s major airports should be financially self-sustaining, which they have been. But, the policy also acknowledged that some airports with low traffic volumes would need federal help. In response, the government created the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) program that funds safety projects for some small airports that fit certain criteria. However, little has changed since its inception. Funding has been stagnant, and while the regulations that govern airport safety and other factors have changed, ACAP has not.
Airports have a new partnership underway, with a draft terms of reference prepared by regional airport associations which have come together to work in tandem on this important safety and security infrastructure program for small airports with fewer than 525,000 passengers a year.
The primary goal is to increase funding for airports that are already eligible for ACAP. There is also an opportunity to talk about the program as part of broader reviews by Transport and Finance on transport infrastructure funding generally, as political and departmental officials respectively consider election platforms and preparations for the next government.
The partnership is supportive of the Regional Community Airports of Canada’s request for $95 million a year for the program, to account for inflation in construction and safety equipment as well as the increase in the sophistication and complexity of regulatory requirements over the past 20 years. Our work continues with the new government in the fall.
Among our activities to support the program, we have worked with the Atlantic Canada Airports Association and the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce through the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a policy resolution on ACAP for consideration in the Chamber’s fall policy conference.