Ontario Increases Transit Support for Waterloo Region

Published on March 01, 2021

New funding provides added relief to ensure transit remains a reliable travel option

March 1, 2021

WATERLOO REGION – Ontario is providing $16,100,057 in funding to Waterloo Region to address the financial impacts on its transit system from the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is in addition to the $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities continue to deliver critical transit services. During the peak of the pandemic, ridership dropped by 90% of normal levels for some of Ontario’s transit systems, which resulted in significant financial impacts for municipalities.


“This is great news for Waterloo Region and will help Grand River Transit operate and maintain service through this challenging time,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris and Kitchener South-Hespeler MPP Amy Fee. “COVID-19 continues to impact our transit system and this additional funding will ensure local transit is there for those who need it.”


The additional $150 million in provincial funding means that there is a total of $650 million in funding still available to municipalities up to December 31, 2021, with extensions to December 2022 granted on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Ontario is calling on the federal government to match the additional funding announced today to help ensure municipal financial needs continue to be met.


“We heard from municipalities and we are responding to their need for more support as COVID-19 continues to result in lost revenue and additional costs for transit systems,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “Transit operators have done an incredible job keeping transit operating during this challenging time, and this support will help ensure there is reliable transportation so people can get to work or pick up essential items.” 


As part of the Safe Restart Agreement funding, municipalities need to work with the province to explore options to ensure local transit is safe, sustainable, affordable, and integrated, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


To support this work, Ontario is allowing municipalities to use Safe Restart Agreement funding towards new initiatives to make it easier and more affordable to travel between different transit systems, adding capacity for on-demand microtransit and increasing fare and service integration.


“We are committed to supporting our municipal partners in their mission to build back transit ridership when we come out of this pandemic,” said Associate Minister Kinga Surma. “We recognize there’s an opportunity now to work with our partners to ensure transit is safe, sustainable and affordable, both during COVID-19 and as we begin to recover.”



  • The federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement is providing up to a total $4 billion in emergency funding to help Ontario’s municipalities deliver critical services.
  • The first phase of Safe Restart funding flowed $700 million to municipalities in 2020 and to date $1.5 billion funding has been allocated.