Toronto Pearson provides free transit passes for Syrian newcomers

TORONTO, July 8, 2016 /CNW/ - To continue the warm Canadian welcome that started at the airport for the 56 flights that landed as part of the Government of Canada's Syrian Refugee Program, Toronto Pearson International Airport launched the Propeller Project Syrian Newcomer Transit Pass Program.

This program used funds collected from passengers and employees in the in-terminal coin globes from December to March and matched them through Toronto Pearson's Propeller Project to provide transit passes for the government-sponsored Syrian Refugees who have settled in the GTA, both those who have already arrived and those who will continue arrive through the rest of 2016. 

Why transit passes? Easy access to transportation is essential for Syrian newcomers to be able to access important programming and essential tools, as well as build fulfilling, independent lives in Canada.

Quick Facts:

  • Toronto Pearson's Propeller Project will provide government-sponsored Syrian newcomer settled in the GTA with transit passes.
    • Approximately 600 families arrived under the Government of Canada's program.
    • Each family will receive two transit passes with a total of 82 fares.
  • Contributions were collected through the Propeller Project giving globes located in Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto Pearson specifically to support the Syrian Newcomer Transit Pass program.
    • Passengers and visitors at Toronto Pearson contributed $50,000.
    • The GTAA and its employees contributed another $100,000 to develop the $150,000 program.
    • Metrolinx is supporting this program by waiving the fee for 1,200 PRESTO cards. That is equivalent to providing $7,200.
  • Transit passes will be distributed via COSTI, the resettlement organization helping Syrian newcomers in the GTA.
  • Toronto Pearson has also provided TTC tokens for Syrian Newcomer parents to travel to and from English conversation classes while their children, age 6-11, receive a free weekly music education through the CultureLink Nai Children's choir.
    • This music program provides a place for healing and learning with a focus on the well-being of newcomer children and their parents.

"At Toronto Pearson, we believe being a good neighbour means investing in local communities. That's why we are investing in transit passes for Syrian Newcomers with the support of our partnership agencies," said Howard Eng, President and CEO, GTAA. "As Canada's largest and busiest airport, we know that connectivity is important. For newcomers, this means that children can get to school, and parents can access the programs and jobs they need to help them live meaningful lives in a safe country."

"A refugee newcomer's first year is busy with English classes, job search and running children to various activities – all done on a tight budget. The GTAA's Propeller Project Syrian Newcomer Transit Pass Program will provide welcome financial relief to these newcomers while facilitating their access to important services for their integration," said Mario Calla, Executive Director, COSTI.

"Metrolinx is happy to support this important program," said Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx. "Newcomers to our region will have the benefit of having one card that will allow them to use transit seamlessly across the GTHA whether on GO Transit, TTC or 10 other transit systems. We're pleased to help make one part of their difficult journey a little easier."

"The key to settlement success is accessibility to services" said Ibrahim Absiye, CultureLink's Executive Director, "We are very grateful to Toronto Pearson International Airport for providing transit support to our choristers' parents since day one of the Nai Children's Choir. The TTC tokens we received not only helped bring refugee children to this free music program, but also enabled the parents to walk out of isolation, learn English and connect to local volunteers. "

About the GTAA
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) is the operator of Toronto Pearson International Airport. With 41 million passengers in 2015, Toronto Pearson is Canada's largest airport, and North America's second largest international passenger airport, as measured by the total number of annual international passengers. Toronto Pearson is a hub for the movement of people and goods across the country and the continent, and also around the globe.

The focus of the GTAA continues to be on growing Toronto Pearson's status as an international gateway: enhancing the customer experience, safety, security, the success of our airline partners and the regional economy.

About the Propeller Project
At Toronto Pearson, we believe being a good neighbour means investing in local communities. The Propeller Project provides funding and support to get great neighbourhood-building initiatives off the ground.

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SOURCE Greater Toronto Airports Authority

For further information: Media Office: (416) 776-3709

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