Canadians rely on regional and local airports to support, sustain and generate economic growth for their communities. These airports not only generate economic growth for communities through job creation, contribution to GDP, or taxation; regional airports also aid in recruitment and retention of staff in rural areas, enable major projects requiring fly in/fly out work, and allow for key services like medivac and wildfire suppression to exist seamlessly. The Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) is needed for regional and local airports to continue being an economic enabler in the communities they serve.
The ACAP, created in 1994, funds critical safety-related infrastructure programs for nearly 200 local and regional airports. The program produces tangible value to the airports awarded funding; however, the ACAP’s funding envelope has not grown to meet the demands of the industry as well as inflation rates over the past 20 years.
The current ACAP funding envelope is $38 million per year; this program was assessed in 2011 and was not increased.The decision to maintain the ACAP’s current funding levels has led to a decline in effectiveness of this program due to increased project costs and inflation. A report published by the Regional Community Airports of Canada (RCAC) noted that only 50% of qualified airport projects from 2013-2017 were funded compared to the years 1998-2002 where 62% of qualified airport projects were funded.1 An analysis was also completed to determine the impact of inflation and increased costs on the largest and most safety critical projects- major airfield rehabilitation. This report concluded that these types of projects had increased approximately 150%, or 2.5 times from 2001 to 2018.1 This analysis has led the RCAC to recommend the funding envelope increase to $95 million per year. Increasing the program’s funding in 2020 will not only support the aviation industry, it will positively contribute to the recovery phase of COVID-19. As additional construction projects are approved, temporary positions are created which will boost the economic stimulus needed for Canada.
Airport associations across the country, including the Regional Community Airports of Canada, Canadian Airports Council, Conseil des aéroports du Québec, Atlantic Airports Council and the Airport Management Council of Ontario are also joining to advocate for increases to the ACAP.
The Chamber Recommends
That the Federal Government:
- Increase the Airports Capital Assistance Program’s funding envelope to $95 million annually to account for inflation and increased project costs; and
- Consider this increase to be effective in 2020 as part of the COVID-19 recovery phase to support an economic stimulus for communities across Canada.
 Regional Community Airports of Canada (RCAC). (2019). Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP). $95 million Annual Program Funding Target. Analysis and Methodology Summary Brief. Grande Prairie: RCAC.
 Evaluation of the Airports Capital Assistance Program (ACAP). (March 2015) Retrieved April 17 2020, from https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/corporate-services/des-reports-1267.html#toc2