Montreal — Many Canadians lack affordable transportation options, which can restrict their access to work opportunities, health care and education, and can result in social exclusion. In Canada’s eight largest cities, nearly one million residents are at risk of being unable to access or afford transportation. And the more than four million individuals who live in the country’s rural, remote, Indigenous and northern communities have few transportation options other than driving a personal vehicle.
In two new policy briefs, the Affordability Action Council (AAC) calls on the federal government to put in place transportation policies that better serve lower-income households, develop a new vision of passenger travel in Canada and make better use of federal funding to close gaps in service.
These recommendations consider the differing needs of urban and rural communities and propose policy solutions that address their unique needs. Urban solutions aim to optimize existing infrastructure, services and incentives to prioritize low-income households. And rural solutions must leverage a collaborative, national vision for passenger travel, while supporting local-led solutions to address unique community needs.
“Making public transit more reliable, affordable and accessible will mean Canadians won’t be forced to drive where they need to go. And helping low- and middle-income families afford clean transportation options will save them money and reduce emissions,” says Nate Wallace, AAC member and program manager of clean transportation at Environmental Defence.
The AAC recommends that the federal government revise its electric-vehicle incentive program to include lower-cost vehicles, such as e-bikes and used electric cars, and target it to lower- and middle-income households. The Council also recommends that the federal government contribute to sustainable operating funding for urban and rural transit systems.
To better meet the needs of rural and remote regions, the AAC recommends that the federal government work with provinces, territories and Indigenous governments to develop and implement a renewed national vision of passenger transportation for the country and that it leverage existing infrastructure funding and Via Rail to help close gaps in inter-regional bus and rail service.
“Transportation is one of the largest expenses for households along with housing and food. It also represents the second-largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in Canada,” Wallace adds. “To provide affordable, clean-energy transportation options to lower-income Canadians, the federal government would do well to adopt the recommendations of the Affordability Action Council,” says Wallace.
The AAC is a dedicated, pan-Canadian group that brings together diverse policy experts and community leaders to come up with new approaches to policymaking that considers all basic needs, including housing, food, transportation and a livable climate. It is an initiative of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Destination Zero, the Trottier Family Foundation and the McConnell Foundation.
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