Infrastructure investments have always been the cornerstones of Ottawa's governing governments. Justin Trudeau's liberals are no exception.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) was established after the 2016 budget and is responsible for $35 billion in spending over 11 years as part of Ottawa’s infrastructure spending plan. The mission of the CIB is to work with provincial, territorial, municipal, federal, Indigenous and private sector investor partners to transform the way infrastructure is planned, funded and delivered in Canada.
In Budget 2016, the Government announced the first phase of its Investing in Canada Plan, which provided $14.4 billion for short-term investments to upgrade and repair existing infrastructure.
In Budget 2017, the Government outlined the second phase of its plan, including a commitment to invest an additional $81.2 billion in long-term funding for public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, and infrastructure that supports trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities.
Of the $81.2 billion in total new funding committed through Budget 2017, $33 billion funding will be delivered through bilateral agreements between Infrastructure Canada and each of the provinces and territories. This federal investment includes four funding streams to be delivered over the next decade:
- $20.1 billion for public transit;
- $9.2 billion for green infrastructure;
- $1.3 billion for community, culture and recreation infrastructure;
- $2.4 billion for wide-ranging infrastructure needs in rural and northern communities.
Under the integrated bilateral agreements, Canada will invest up to:
- 40% of municipal and not-for-profit projects in the provinces;
- 50% of provincial projects;
- 75% for projects in the territories and for projects with Indigenous partners;
- 25% of for-profit private sector projects (except in the Community, Culture and Recreation Stream, where for-profit private sector projects are not eligible).
On July 6, 2017, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities reached out to provinces and territories to establish next steps and launch negotiations to work with them to finalize these important agreements quickly. With investments in public transit, green infrastructure and social infrastructure, the Government of Canada is building strong, inclusive and sustainable communities by increasing infrastructure funding over the next ten years.
In total, the Government is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years to build infrastructure in communities across the country. Additional investment associated with the first and second phase of the Investing in Canada Plan is expected to help create or maintain an estimated 42,000 jobs by 2020–21.
Included in the Investing in Canada plan is $92.2 billion in funding that is available through existing programs. For example, the 2014 New Building Canada Fund was improved to accelerate funding and increase flexibility in how the funding can be used by communities. Of these funds, approximately $3 billion will continue to be made available each year for municipal projects through the Goods and Services Tax Rebate and the federal Gas Tax Fund.
To date, the Government has approved more than 33,000 infrastructure projects in communities across the country—with the vast majority already underway. More than $7 billion of the $19.9 billion committed to projects has been fully invested in projects like new highways, bridges, buses, water treatment plants and community centres.
The CIB made 310 investment related meetings with government sponsors and private sector and institutional investors and 85 public outreach events reaching audiences of 10,000+ people in industry and the public sector. There are 13 projects in active due diligence and more than 100 projects have been brought forward for discussion and review with the CIB.
Budget 2019 stated the CIB is “examining opportunities to apply its innovative financing tools to stimulate private sector investment in high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities” and is “well positioned to work with jurisdictions, including northern communities, to plan and finance projects that improve access within Canada to affordable, reliable and clean electricity […] that improve interconnections between provincial electricity grids.”
The new Champlain Bridge in Montreal opened at the end of June. More than $300 million had to be spent reinforcing the old bridge so that it would be safe for traffic, including installing a 75-tonne “super beam” in 2013. The new bridge, dubbed the Samuel de Champlain Bridge, cost $4.2 billion.
The LPC want to boost investment in social infrastructure by nearly $6 billion over the next four years, and almost $20 billion over ten years.
Andrew Scheer said a Conservative government would cut funding of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which was established under the current Liberal government, as well as to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The NDP believes that funds used to build sustainable infrastructure must not be perceived as expenses, but as sustainable investments that lead to important economic spinoffs, while protecting the environment and minimizing adverse consequences for our communities.
The NDP is convinced that sustainable economic development is the way of the future when building infrastructure, public transportation and social housing for the long term. It’s clear that sustainable projects are more cost effective while also minimizing their environmental footprint.
New Democrat government will also create a Northern Infrastructure Fund to fast-track investment and focus on improving much-needed infrastructure like roads and broadband internet for communities in the north.
The Green Party want to invest in critical infrastructure of transport and water works, to modernize and reduce energy demand. The Greens wants to support the gas tax commitment to municipal governments and create a new pool of municipal infrastructure funding by changing tax rules to create a Municipal Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).
The People’s Party of Canada has no specific position on infrastructure.
The Bloc Québécois is proposing that the federal government launch an infrastructure program worth $10 billion a year, focusing on public transit and the electrification of transportation.
Through the release of their campaign platform on Sunday September 29th, Liberals announced their new pledges on infrastructure, if re-elected in the fall election. These include:
- Assuring utilization of existing funds: Requiring that all provinces and territories identify and approve all of their long-term infrastructure priorities requiring federal support within the next two years. Funds that aren’t designated for specific projects by the end of 2021 will be reinvested directly in communities through a top-up of the federal Gas Tax Fund.
- National Infrastructure Fund: Seek out and support major nation-building projects that benefit people across various regions, connect our country, and help improve the quality of life and standard of living of Canadians in significant and long-lasting ways.
- Permanent public transit funding: Making federal funding for transit a permanent commitment, which means an additional $3 billion per year in stable, predictable funding for cities’ transit needs.
The Green Party has promised to develop a national transportation strategy and to use existing Canada Post infrastructure to enhance rural services. Speaking to reporters and supporters in Sackville, N.B., party leader Elizabeth May said that rural travel has become more difficult with reduced Via Rail services and cancelled bus routes in B.C., Saskatchewan and the Maritimes. A Green government, May said, will implement new legislation dubbed the Via Rail Act, which will lead to Ottawa investing $600 million in 2020-21 to develop regional rail networks, and to aim for zero-carbon public transportation by 2040.
“People living in rural and remote communities have virtually no access to public transportation,” May said. “This is unacceptable.”
May said many Canadians rely on Via Rail service as inter-city bus routes dry up, noting the cancellation of Greyhound service across western Canada. She said that train service needs be on time and daily, adding that in some cities, trains only leave every couple of days.
To fix this, May said a Green government would build more tracks so Via Rail trains are not held up by freight trains and would travel on schedule. The party plans to use the railways primarily, with spokes of light rail and electric bus connections to achieve a national transportation strategy.
The Liberal government in June pledged $71.1 million to help push forward Via Rail’s proposal for a high-frequency rail corridor stretching from Toronto to Quebec City. The proposed $4-billion high-frequency rail project would see Via Rail construct its own dedicated rail line along the corridor, allowing for faster and more frequent service. Trains in the region currently run on tracks shared with cargo vehicles.
A Green government would also implement a host of services for rural communities using existing Canada Post infrastructure, said May, adding that Canada Post can be made financially stable by diversifying its services. Postal door-to-door services will be reinstated, postal carries will check on people with mobility issues, and Canada Post will establish banking services in remote regions, she said.
The party also plans to use Canada Post offices for public high-speed internet access and community meetings. The Canada Post fleet will be upgraded to electric vehicles under a Green government, according to May.
“It is doable, it’s within our budget,” she said, adding that the budget for the Green platform will be released Wednesday and include cost estimates from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
During a stop in Gatineau, Que., Jagmeet Singh pledged to add $2.5 billion to the federal government’s disaster mitigation fund. He said the idea is to help people — like those in west Quebec who recently faced severe flooding — avoid disasters and be able to stay in their current homes.
The national Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund has already set aside $2 billion to support large-scale infrastructure programs that help communities better manage such risks.
The federal government says an increasing number of Canadian communities have experienced significant weather-related events and disasters triggered by natural hazards such as floods, wildland fires and droughts _ calamities that are becoming more frequent due to climate change.
Singh said “we can’t just close our eyes” to the prospect of more weather-related disasters.
On August 19th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Quebec City to announce a federal investment of $1.2 billion for a new transit link in the city’s west end. The tramway, whose total cost is estimated at $3.3 billion, must be delivered by 2026 at the latest. Quebec has earmarked $1.8 billion to pay for the project, and Quebec City, the last $300 million.
On July 31st, the head of the Canada Infrastructure Bank Nicholas Hann resigned just 10 months after taking the job. John Casola, a managing director at the infrastructure bank, has taken over as acting head of investments. The bank launched with $35 billion in funding from Ottawa in 2017 but has so far committed and lent just $3 billion on four projects, one of which was already planned.
On July 29th, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe accused the federal infrastructure minister of delaying infrastructure projects worth $200 million from starting this construction season. A letter to federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Francois-Philippe Champagne posted on Moe's Twitter account says the province has also faced delays for accessing project criteria. Projects submitted by Saskatchewan include a runway expansion in Moose Jaw, the decommissioning of several urban landfills in towns and upgrades to the water system.