First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to speak with you.
I would like to extend my congratulations to you, Chair, as well as to Luc Berthold and Linda Duncan on their recent elections as vice-chairs.
I have been asked to appear today to speak with you about my role in the development of a 10-year Canadian infrastructure plan and the delivery of a refocused new building Canada fund. I also want to talk about what my department is going to do to support the government's commitment to transparency and openness.
I'm joined today by my deputy minister, Mr. Tremblay, as well as associate deputy ministers Yazmine Laroche and Helena Borges, and assistant deputy minister Darlene Boileau.
I will begin by addressing the items on the main estimates.
Infrastructure Canada's total authorities for 2016-17 are $3.9 billion. Included in the department's main estimates is $2.1 billion through the gas tax fund, which is predictable funding for Canadian municipalities for their infrastructure priorities. There is also $1.6 billion in contribution funding available for provincial and territorial infrastructure projects. The remaining amount identified represents operating funding for Infrastructure Canada to administer and deliver these programs, and capital funding for the acquisition of land for the new Champlain Bridge corridor project and the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
Infrastructure Canada's expenditures match the pace at which funding partners build infrastructure projects and subsequently submit claims for eligible expenses. If recipients do not claim the expenses they forecast in any given fiscal year, Infrastructure Canada asks Parliament to re-profile program funds through future year appropriations to meet the cash flow needs of the recipients.
As you know, our government has committed to invest $60 billion in new infrastructure over the next 10 years. This funding does not appear in our 2016-17 estimates, but we are working with Minister as he develops the budget.
Now I will speak about the 10-year infrastructure plan and the refocusing of the new building Canada fund.
Everyone in this room knows that there are significant advantages to infrastructure investments, both in the short term and in the long term. Well-planned investments in infrastructure generate economic growth, create jobs, and leave a lasting legacy for Canadians.
But infrastructure is so much more than the structures themselves. It's more than concrete and water pipes, or roads and bridges, or buses and train tracks. Infrastructure is really about people. It is what connects Canadians to their communities and allows them to be active participants, both socially and economically.
Infrastructure is about parents sleeping in peace knowing that their children will have clean and safe water to drink. It is about a safe haven and a shelter for women fleeing domestic violence, and clean and safe housing for someone who has no other options. It is also about Canadians having decent, well-paid jobs that allow them to raise their families and give them a high quality of life. Infrastructure can do that.
Infrastructure is the foundation that shapes our communities, making them more livable and sustainable and providing the places where we want to live, work, and play. Our infrastructure investments must be made strategically, collaboratively, and with a long-term vision. They need to focus on projects that are not only shovel-ready but also shovel-worthy.
All orders of government have an equal role to play in building strong communities, and I'm working collaboratively with our government partners and indigenous communities, as well as our stakeholders and municipal association partners, to build the infrastructure this country needs. Collaboration will be key to our success.
I have already had extensive discussions with our provincial, territorial, and municipal partners and have met with mayors from across the country and representatives from indigenous communities. I have met numerous times with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I met last month with the Big City Mayors' Caucus, and I have met with other key stakeholders and associations, such as the Canadian Urban Transit Association. We are designing our new approach to infrastructure in collaboration with our partners. By working together, we will provide the long-term, dedicated, and predictable funding that will help build communities for the 21st century.
Let me talk about our plan.
We have committed to doubling infrastructure investment over the coming decade. This means $60 billion of additional investments over the next 10 years that will focus on three strategic areas: public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure. In our desire to start supporting communities as quickly as possible, we have also committed to investing $10 billion of that money in the next two years.
We are also planning changes to the building Canada fund to make it more focused on strategic and trade-enabling infrastructure priorities, including roads, bridges, transportation corridors, ports, and border gateways. Also, we are looking at ways to make the application process more responsive and flexible to allow communities across the country to access funding more easily and rapidly.
Moving forward, we are faced with the challenge of getting infrastructure investments into our economy quickly while ensuring that we also act in a long-term and strategic way. Our work and investments over the next two years must lay the foundation for longer-term transformative change.
We know that infrastructure across the country is not in a state of good repair. The recent report card of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities reported that the condition of one-third of municipal infrastructure is between fair and very poor, and that at current reinvestment rates this infrastructure will continue to deteriorate. My consultations with partners reiterated that this critical aspect of infrastructure—recapitalization and repairs—demands attention. By focusing on the repairing of our existing infrastructure, we can fix what we have now instead of delaying and paying more to fix it later.
As we begin to invest in infrastructure, we also propose to make investments that can enhance municipal planning, asset management, and data collection capacity. This will help all orders of government make evidence-based decisions and put us on a more sustainable path.
By providing targeted infrastructure investment in social, green, and public transit projects and refocusing the new building Canada fund, we will be able to address the real needs of Canadian communities.
Finally, as I mentioned in my introduction, I want to speak about my department's commitment to transparency and openness. My department, like several others, has posted on our website the table of contents for the briefing binder I received when I was sworn in as minister. Anyone can reach out to the department and request to receive a copy of my briefing materials at no cost.
We have posted the signed project agreements for the work being done on the new Champlain Bridge. Last month, we posted a breakdown of the funding remaining in the new building Canada fund for each province and territory, which provides a clear picture of how much funding we have remaining to accelerate in the coming months and years, as we have committed to do. Also, I have been posting updates to our website that tell Canadians what I have been doing as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the partners I have met with, the meetings I have attended, and the projects I have visited.
As you know, our government has an ambitious plan to build communities that are sustainable and inclusive. By working in partnership with other orders of government and key stakeholders, we can develop and implement an evidence-based, strategic, and collaborative plan, one that will support us as we work to build the communities in which Canadians desire to live.
Thank you so much for having me here today.
Thank you very much. I appreciate you and your staff giving this time to the committee. It gives us a good opportunity to have some good dialogue and flesh out some things.
I first want to thank you. I know you've mentioned the gas tax fund numerous times, so I want to thank you very much for doing that. As you know, it has been in place for I guess almost a decade. We've had very good success with it with respect to our government and, of course, with respect to doubling it and then indexing it to make sure that it would remain in perpetuity. That's been very helpful to communities. When I was a mayor, I had the benefit of that as well.
I have a couple of questions in terms of the 10-year infrastructure plan. I know that's under way now, but when you're saying that there's not any additional monies that will be figured into the plan because it's not in the budget, is it anticipated that it will be in the budget?
The reason I ask this question is that I know there was an announcement of, I think, $10 million over the next two years that will go to roadwork. There was also an announcement by the of another $2 billion over two years for projects to reduce carbon pollution, and another $5.4 billion over four years for green infrastructure projects.
Are these already included in the budget and not as part of the additional...? Because under this stream, it would be $20 billion over and above the existing budget.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Once again, I appreciate the questions and comments.
I was a mayor for the past 14 years, and I'm sure some of my colleagues have been for quite some time as well. We recognize the needs. Quite frankly, again, congratulations on being very consistent with those needs. You're listening not only to the FCM and to some extent the provincial organizations, but obviously, based on your comments and your answers, you're hearing a lot from the mayors of big and small communities. Again, in terms of your comments, it's consistent with what they're saying.
In regard to focusing, this is what we hear a lot of at the municipal level. We hear about focusing on how infrastructure investments are becoming economic enablers, not only with respect to economic development but also with respect to sustainability within our communities, within asset management, lifespan, repair and maintenance, and of course, eventually and inevitably, replacement.
As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Minister, with respect to transportation, for example, transportation corridors and investing in those areas, ports, and of course border regions and border gateways, you once again correctly identified in your comments and answers additional investments that lend themselves to economic sustainability.
With that, Mr. Minister, the 2016-17 main estimates propose a 5% decrease in the planned spending by the Jacques Cartier and Champlain bridges, as was mentioned earlier, incorporated with a related reduction in the project scope for repairs to the ice-control structure and the Bonaventure Expressway. In what manner did the project scope for repairs to the ice-control structure and the Bonaventure Expressway decrease?
Now I have an overview. Thank you.
Minister, earlier, my colleague Mr. Fraser brought up small communities and their concern that the three priorities identified under the plan appear to focus on cities.
I've spoken with a few of my old mayor colleagues in Quebec, and they are somewhat concerned that they'll be forgotten under this extensive infrastructure plan. I would just like to point out that these people are very anxious for support, especially since, as mentioned earlier, small communities in Quebec have yet again received nothing. So they are extremely worried. You ought to give them some reassurance regarding the federal government's involvement in these projects under your new plan.
I have here studies from the Union des municipalités du Québec showing that municipalities' contribution to infrastructure projects corresponds to about 70% of the cost, even though municipalities are the only ones whose investment does not bring in any tax revenue. They don't collect taxes from the construction workers involved in the projects. They are really contributing 100%.
You were a city councillor, so you know that municipalities don't see a return on their investment. I'd say they're expecting the federal government to give them a break in its next plan.
Funding has to be planned quickly if municipalities are to be ready. Can you go so far as to tell us what level of involvement you're expecting from small towns under your new plan?