Mr. Chair, thank you for inviting us to discuss the planned audit work of our office, including the work on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With me today is Andrew Hayes, deputy auditor general and interim commissioner of the environment and sustainable development.
My appointment as Auditor General of Canada was effective on June 8. I am very pleased to make my first appearance before a parliamentary committee as the Auditor General, and I look forward to supporting the government over the next 10 years.
When the interim auditor general, Sylvain Ricard, appeared before this committee on May 12, he discussed our audits of the government's investing in Canada plan and the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also spoke about the resourcing challenges that our office has been facing, and the difficult decisions that we had to make to delay other planned audit work in order to prioritize the investing in Canada and COVID-19 audits.
Today, I will build on the information that Mr. Ricard provided to this committee. Our audit of the investing in Canada plan is well under way. We know that there is considerable interest in this audit. We have been collecting and analyzing a significant amount of information.
We have also designed an audit approach that will allow us to provide as much information as possible to Parliament about the government's implementation and monitoring activities, and the nature of the projects that have been funded under the plan.
With respect to our COVID-19 audit work, we have been focusing on the government's spending related to health and safety protection, support to individuals and businesses, and other liquidity support and capital relief. We are also considering elements of emergency preparedness and early response actions. We expect to be conducting audits related to COVID-19 for many years.
Although our work is progressing, I think that it is worth noting that physical distancing and remote working arrangements present some challenges for our audits. We have seen that it takes more time and effort to work through the audit processes, and to access, receive and exchange information. I would emphasize, however, that we have seen a willingness and a concerted effort on the part of those that we audit to work with us.
We also know that there is important audit work that will have to be done at a later date. For example, information about the effectiveness of some programs and corrective actions that the government may take will only be available for audit in the future. For both the COVID-19 and the investing in Canada audits, we are exploring ways to report our findings to Parliament as quickly as possible.
At this point, it is likely that we will present specific audit reports to Parliament when they are completed, rather than take the traditional approach of setting a date for presenting a collection of reports.
I would now like to speak briefly about the unanimous motion that was passed by your committee on June 9.
We have always considered a unanimous motion from a parliamentary committee to be a very clear message to our office. The committee's motion calls on us to audit all federal programs associated with Canada's COVID-19 response, to conduct all audits requested by the House of Commons and to complete all previously scheduled audits. The motion also calls on the government to provide us with all the funding we need to carry out these audits and any other work that we deem to be appropriate.
We viewed the committee's motion as reinforcing the importance of our work and its value to Parliament. We pride ourselves in supporting Parliament to the best of our abilities. Given our current resourcing and funding levels, we need to be selective when deciding on the audits that we conduct. We will not be able to audit each and every federal program associated with Canada's COVID-19 response.
When I appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on May 29, I mentioned that once I was appointed, one of my first priorities would be to assess our funding needs in light of the current circumstances, which includes the significant work that we have been asked to do. At this point, I do not have an updated number to share, but I am confident that we will ask for a budget increase that will be greater than the $10.8 million of additional funding that the office requested in 2019 and in 2020. That amount was based on assessments that were done in 2017, and a lot has changed since then.
We are currently engaged in discussions with the Department of Finance about our funding. We expect that those discussions will continue over the next few weeks. Although we still believe that an independent funding mechanism is the best long-term solution, we are committed to exploring solutions with senior public servants so that our current funding needs can be addressed as quickly as possible.
If we encounter difficulties that cannot be overcome, we will be sure to inform Parliament; however, we are not sitting back and waiting. We have taken steps over the last week to maximize the performance of our audit work that we can do in the future. In particular, we launched a hiring process last Friday with the intention of significantly increasing the capacity of our performance audit practice. We know that it will take some time to hire and onboard the highly skilled people we need to do the work that you have asked us to do.
Obviously, we are taking some risks, because we have not received a permanent funding increase. On the other hand, if we do not start the hiring processes, we will not have the people in place to do our work. We will keep Parliament informed about our work and the impact on our resources.
Both Andrew and I would now be happy to answer any questions the committee may have.
Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
Auditor General Hogan, congratulations. I'm really excited to meet you and to be here.
Prior to getting into my questions for you specifically, I'd just like to offer some context.
I'm so glad Mr. Poilievre went down memory lane because I was reading this morning the opening statement from the interim auditor general, Sylvain Ricard, when he appeared before the public accounts committee. It outlined for me why Conservative cuts continue to hurt our democracy and accountability in this country.
In those statements it talked about what Mr. Poilievre brought up about the reduced number of audits that are happening currently. Even though we increased the budget in vote 1, a lot of that money went to fund the underfunded staffing and technology that was needed, which was cut from 2014-15, including payroll and Phoenix, another Conservative scandal that has set us back many years. I think I read in his comments that something like one-third of new funding would still be going to paying back, essentially, the staff who had to be cut in 2014-15. You didn't cut the staff, but you couldn't afford to pay them based on the Conservative cuts.
I bring this context up not to put you, Auditor General, in a political position to comment on that, but these seem to be the facts that were spoken of to public accounts. The fact is that a lot of the existing—and this isn't even COVID-related—expenses are actually due to those previous significant cuts, years of inability to get the expertise as well as the technology needed for these more complex audits, so they couldn't be done and we fell behind. Now a lot of the funding increases or bringing those levels back up really just goes back to playing catch-up, because the Conservatives decided that accountability wasn't important during their mandate.
What brings us to today and my question for you, Auditor General, is moving forward, because I fundamentally believe in an independent, accountable Auditor General for all governments—moving forward, dealing with the fact that we're playing catch-up based on Conservative cuts that are still hurting us today, and moving forward on a situation like COVID, which has had significant, obviously unprecedented, unforeseen changes in every department.
I know that one of the recommendations for moving forward on funding was an automatic annual adjustment based on expenses. If that were the process, notwithstanding the increase needed to catch up, which I understand you're making and will be clear, but moving forward, if an automatic annual adjustment were made and a situation like COVID came up, wouldn't that just blow the budget in terms of expenses and put us in this exact same position of how you both continue the regular operating work of the Auditor General's office and take into account the unforeseen, unprecedented studies and the function of your office?
What is the best mechanism, which COVID is now teaching us, to be flexible and to keep doing the regular work in addition to some of these unforeseen things, so that your office can then provide services to Canadians?
I think some of what we've learned from the past cuts and maybe what COVID is teaching us.... Back in 2016 or so, when the entire government went through a reduction in its budgets, we did what we felt was the right thing for us to do as Canadians, and also looked at ourselves and took some cuts.
Since then, there have been new mandates given to us, as you mentioned, that were not funded. Whenever we were faced with that, we had to make difficult decisions that required us to divert some money that would have been invested in IT to deal with some of the financial work, mostly, that we received without funding, as well as an expansion of our mandate on the review of the sustainable development plan. If we fast-forward to what we've learned from COVID, while that was a place where it made sense at the time to slow down our investment, I think everyone across the country is realizing that reliable IT is something that is absolutely important.
I know a good part of our funding request will include helping us deal with that IT gap that we have.
Going forward, what might a funding mechanism look like? There are many options out there. There are other countries that have independent funding mechanisms. As you mentioned, adjusting to expenditures is one way. Some of the difficulty with that is that it's not predictable and could ebb and flow. When an audit office like ours relies so heavily on our human capital, it takes time to attract and hire and retain those people. You can't just hire them and let them go. We do need some form of stable, predictable funding.
When we put in a new funding request to the Department of Finance, we will as well include in there an idea and a recommendation on our front as to what might be a possible funding mechanism. Hopefully we can then open the dialogue on a more long-term solution. I see our funding request getting us through the three to five years, and then hopefully we can look at a more long-term solution for the back end of my mandate, as well as for the office going forward into the future.
Welcome, Auditor General Hogan.
Mr. Hayes, thank you very much.
Congratulations. It's a very important position that you hold. I have no doubt that people right across the country are looking to make sure that money is spent effectively and wisely.
I will start off by mentioning the finger pointing between the Conservatives and Liberals, which I don't think anyone finds credible. The reality is, as we all know, that we look at constant dollars. It is only under minority parliaments that the Auditor General's department has been adequately financed. The moment the Harper Conservatives became a majority government, they started slashing. The current government has continued that practice, a massive slash from a decade ago that has made it very difficult to have the Auditor General do the important work on behalf of Canadians.
The contradiction is very clear. We've seen previous Conservatives governments and the current Liberal government splurging on banks and big businesses at the same time as they nickel and dime the Auditor General and that important function to death. I think it's good we have unanimous support around restoring the funding, but the reality is that only happens in minority parliaments. Now we can move forward.
You mentioned earlier the importance of putting in place an independent funding mechanism. You have cited other countries that have in place an auditor general function that is independent from whether or not the majority government can run roughshod over the important function the auditor general performs.
In your mind, what is the best example of other countries that have independent funding mechanisms that should really apply in the case of the Auditor General?
That's reassuring because this has been something that needs to be thoroughly examined, particularly given the significant bank profits we've seen so far in the pandemic.
Another program that raises real concerns is the LEEFF program. Of course, we've seen, under this current government, loan forgiveness. Loans are granted, and then, all of a sudden, they're magically forgiven, which means that they are grants, but it's not done in a forthright transparent manner. It's done in two stages.
We saw the current government forgiving $196 million in loans earlier this year. They are not releasing the name of the company, the corporation, that benefited from that.
What are the difficulties when you have two stages, where first the loan is granted, and then, magically, the loan is forgiven? In terms of auditing and following up, and making sure the taxpayers' interests are protected, what are the challenges around that sort of two-stage process, which many people fear will be part of the LEEFF program, where first the loan is granted and then it is magically forgiven?
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I have a brief comment replying to Ms. Dzerowicz. The Library of Parliament information that we've received, in terms of funding, clearly shows that the peak for funding for the Auditor General was 2011. It was a minority government going into a majority government. It was $95 million, and it's fallen to $87.9 million. You don't need to be an auditor general to know that $95 million is considerably more than $87.9 million. That's in current dollars. In constant dollars, the difference between what the Auditor General should be getting and what it is getting is even greater.
Again, Liberals and Conservatives have been finger-pointing. They've both been awful and they both should be ashamed of themselves, but a minority Parliament will restore the appropriate funding, and hopefully, Ms. Hogan will be able to get that independent funding mechanism. That's vitally important.
I have a couple of questions for Mr. Hayes, and one for you, Ms. Hogan.
The issues of the infrastructure bank, I assume, will include what has been flagged by a number of people, the executive bonuses that have been part of the infrastructure bank and the massive staff turnover. That's my question for you.
Mr. Hayes, in terms of the commissioner of the environment, when will a permanent person be chosen? As I understand it, you continue to be an interim commissioner. On July 8, will any reports be released by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development?
Finally, on subsidies for oil and gas—
We shall reconvene, and I'll call the meeting to order.
This is the second panel of meeting number 39 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. Pursuant to the order of reference from the House, we're meeting on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today's meeting is taking place by video conference, and the proceedings will be made available on the House of Commons website.
I want to welcome the witnesses for this panel. From the Canada Infrastructure Bank, we have Annie Ropar, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer; John Casola, chief investment officer; and David Morley, group head, corporate affairs, policy and communications.
Welcome to all of you. I expect somebody has a presentation to make.
Before I get there, though, we do have a little bit of committee business that we need to attend to. Members were emailed the request for the project budget, which is the COVID-19 study, and the amount requested is $17,000. The costs are allocated in that paper that was extended to you. Does anybody object to that expenditure? Are there any objections or questions on it?
Are we all in agreement on the budget of $17,000 for our study, which we've been doing for a while?
(Motion agreed to)
The Chair: We have agreement on that. Thank you.
We'll turn then to the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Ms. Ropar, the floor is yours.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll be starting my remarks in French.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, good afternoon.
My name is Annie Ropar. I am the chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. I am glad to be speaking to you today. I am joined by my colleagues John Casola, chief investment officer, and David Morley, group head of corporate affairs, policy and communications.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss the importance of investing in infrastructure and the role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, the CIB. At the CIB, we know that new infrastructure is a powerful lever for recovering productivity and growth, now more than ever. New infrastructure can generate considerable economic, social and environmental benefits over time.
Fortunately, Canada has a great deal of experience in infrastructure projects carried out through public-private partnerships. We also have a solid ecosystem of companies that support investment in infrastructure. Those companies include construction and consulting engineering companies, as well as financial institutions. Cooperation with public sector partners is at the heart of the CIB's actions. We have discussions periodically with federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as indigenous communities on their needs and their priorities in infrastructure.
Although we bring to projects a thorough knowledge of industry and investment capital, it is public sponsors—in other words, governments of all levels—that generally have the assets and manage projects. Those are our clients. We have announced our participation in 10 new projects. Those projects are located in different regions of Canada and involve various investment sectors.
We have announced participation in 10 new projects. They are in different regions and in various sectors.
We are helping bring to life projects that are priorities for governments. A key rationale for creating the Canada Infrastructure Bank was that governments alone could not underwrite all the required investment in infrastructure. That was the view before the pandemic struck. Public budgets will be even more strained in the near term. Expanded partnerships with the private sector are needed to spark activity and get new assets built. That’s where we come in. The CIB acts as a catalyst to encourage new financing approaches.
CIB was established by legislation in 2017 and became operational in 2018. It has a mandate to invest $35 billion dollars as one element of the government’s investing in Canada plan. Our objective is to advance a new partnership model and transform the way infrastructure is planned, financed and delivered in Canada. We focus on revenue-generating projects. Projects must be linked to national, provincial or local priorities. Our current priority sectors are green infrastructure, public transit, trade and transportation, and broadband infrastructure.
In those sectors, we have three key roles.
First, we advise governments across Canada, at all levels, on revenue-generating infrastructure projects and innovative investment options. We offer specialized expertise in structuring financial instruments and provide financial advisory and project structuring. Second, we invest in projects and seek to attract private and institutional capital to co-invest alongside us. To be clear, we do not provide grants or traditional government funding. Rather, we can extend loans, take equity positions in a project, or use other innovative tools to help get a project built. Third, with partners, we develop and share infrastructure knowledge and research.
Our activities and efforts have yielded results. We have, so far, announced participation in 10 projects across Canada, with more to come.
Infrastructure is a long-term asset class. The capital costs of transformational projects can range from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. Projects often entail complex design and analysis work, with dozens of expert parties involved.
In some projects, we act as early-stage advisers to governments. In cases where projects are more advanced, we are investors. With our public and private partners, we work to understand infrastructure problems and create financial solutions that are tailored to each project. That is a unique feature and a net benefit for us being a federal organization that adapts to the needs of our partners.
Good ideas for necessary and valuable infrastructure can stall, for many reasons. There might be a lack of public funding or an inability to attract private capital. At the CIB, we play an active role to identify and address the gaps, thereby supporting projects that would likely otherwise not proceed without our involvement.
As mentioned before, we do not provide grants, but we also need to ensure that we don’t crowd out private capital, meaning that we don’t invest where there is otherwise institutional financing available. A few examples can demonstrate our positive impact.
We announced a $300-million facility to build the Contrecoeur port terminal in Montreal. This expansion will increase container-handling capacity and meet forecast demand from international shippers, as well as Canadian exporters and importers.
We are advising on the proposed Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link. It involves the construction of a new, 1,200-kilometre, 150-megawatt transmission line from Manitoba to Nunavut. The project would deliver renewable and reliable hydroelectricity and broadband infrastructure to the Kivalliq region.
In Richmond, B.C., we are working with the municipality’s Lulu Island Energy Company to expand the city’s existing district energy system, and this month we were pleased to announce our first partnership with the Government of Alberta, on the Calgary-Banff rail project. This rail link would support Alberta’s economy by connecting the Calgary International Airport to the city’s downtown and Banff National Park.
Our advisory and investments team has deep knowledge in our priority sectors. My colleague John, for example, despite his very youthful appearance, has more than 20 years of experience advising on project finance and transactions. His senior team has the experience and knowledge to work with the public sector, mobilize private capital, and manage risks.
At any given time, the team is evaluating a long list of ideas and confidential proposals. These come from governments or public agencies, as well as from the private sector. In the most recent fiscal year, we assessed 172 potential projects. The proposals covered all provinces and territories. There is a great supply of creative ideas on how to successfully align private and public interests in delivering infrastructure.
Twenty-four months ago, there was nothing: no staff, no risk management program, nothing was operationalized. It takes a lot of heavy lifting to set the right foundation to ensure proper controls and processes surrounding the stewardship of taxpayer money, and to make sure we have consistent, rigorous due diligence processes in our review and structuring of investments, but even during that time period, while we were building, we got a lot done.
The CIB operates at arm’s length from government. We have an independent, professional board of directors. This provides independence to make investment decisions based on commercial assessments and analysis. The board, led by our new chair, Michael Sabia, provides expert governance and strategic guidance. It ensures oversight and accountability. The directors bring a balance of professional skills, infrastructure expertise and investment experience. They reflect gender, linguistic, cultural and regional diversity. Our board truly understands the important links between government and business.
All of us at the CIB take our purpose very seriously. We have a culture that is committed to public service, and the experience and drive to achieve results in a business-like way. We are headquartered in Toronto and have strong representation in Montreal and Calgary. We also have an expert focused on engaging with indigenous communities about their infrastructure priorities.
I am very proud of our diversity. We are a small team of about 50 people, and we are an inclusive organization. Some 41% of our team members identify as visible minorities, 40% of us are women, and 33% are bilingual.
We are also committed to transparency as a public institution. Our corporate plan, quarterly financial results, annual report, annual public meeting, expense and other disclosures are available on our website. During the pandemic, our business continuity plan allowed us to continue working while ensuring the health and safety of our employees. We are still very actively engaging with partners across the country.
The pandemic has required collaboration and creativity in government, business and communities, but it is obviously going to leave financial and economic scars. The CIB offers infrastructure advisory and investment expertise that will help revitalize Canada’s economy. New forms of investment are required to address our pressing needs, and new infrastructure delivers both immediate and long-lasting benefits to our country.
Thank you, and we look forward to your questions.
Thank you, Ms. Ropar and Mr. Casola, for coming today.
I always appreciate the interventions of my colleague Mr. Poilievre, as you know, Mr. Chair, but I wonder where his passion was, in terms of getting infrastructure built. I wonder where Stephen Harper's passion was, when it came to getting infrastructure built. We all know that hardly any infrastructure was built in Canada between 2006 and 2015, and perhaps if that passion and interest had been there, we wouldn't need the Canada Infrastructure Bank, but there is a dearth of infrastructure in Canada when it comes to large-scale projects. Our government has taken action on that, and that's why we moved in the direction that we did in 2017.
I have a related point. It's about timing.
In August 2019, Jim Leech—who, as I'm sure you know, is the former head of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which has a large amount of investment in infrastructure globally—said the following:
It took Teachers’ [the pension plan] more than three years to invest the amount CIB has already committed [in its first year, which is more than $3 billion]—and that was by purchasing complete projects, not building from scratch. Startup projects take considerably more due diligence and analysis. Putting money out the door is never a challenge—investing wisely for the betterment of Canadians takes time and talent.
Mr. Casola or Ms. Ropar, can you speak to the point I think Mr. Leech has made here, which is that transformational change takes time? When you introduce a new way of doing things, seeing the sort of transformational change that's intended does take time.
That's what I take from this comment, but I'm happy to hear what you think.
I'll take that. Thank you for the question.
The VIA HFR project is an incredibly important project for the government and for Canadians in serving the most populous corridor of the country. The original business case you refer to I think caused the government of the day to look at it and ask, “Is there a way that we can do this better, more effectively and more efficiently, by bringing in private capital, and is there a way that we can achieve great results of the type proposed by VIA by doing it a slightly different way?” At least, it said, let's look at all the good ways to do this, the potential ways that make sense.
The government asked us to work with VIA in a joint project office, or the JPO, as we call it. It's a combined staff office of VIA Rail and the CIB. We did a global search for a director to lead the office. He's an independent and globally recognized rail expert. We moved him here to do this project, and he has, in no time at all, won the praise and respect of all parties involved, of the stakeholders and other participants.
The purpose of that JPO was to look at the project and the options for the project in terms of alignment. How would we build it? What are the procurement options? What are the payment options? What are the ridership options? Should we electrify it? Should we not electrify it?
All of those questions are being asked and assessed. I'm pleased to share with you today that there is tremendous progress being made. The team is working extremely hard with external world-class engineering firms and is quickly narrowing down several alignment options, route options. All of those come with different studies that are necessary. We're going to start consultations in the next month or two with all of the affected groups along the various alignments so that we can report back and take the social impact of a particular route or alignment into account.
The CIB team is working very hard in leading that finance and procurement piece to ensure reliability of costs, ensure the ridership numbers make sense and ensure that the procurement options to bring in private capital potentially are on the table and well informed. Then, of course, there's that all-important issue of journey time.
Although the mandate of the JPO is for the Quebec City-to-Toronto corridor, you talked about southwestern Ontario. Part of that analysis at this point is to not extend it to southwestern Ontario, but if the journey times from Toronto to Montreal or Toronto to Ottawa are reduced sufficiently because of all the good work, how does it widen that catchment area if you can get to Montreal from London or from Kitchener-Waterloo in an hour and a half or two hours less than would be the case prior to this? It makes a huge difference.
All of that good work is ongoing at the moment. We're making very, very good progress and we hope to have some good advice for the government by the end of the calendar year.
I will begin with two comments.
My first comment is about what my colleague Mr. Poilievre said. I think it would be important for the severance pay of the Canada Infrastructure Bank's former CEO to be made public, since that is public money. We must be transparent. At the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and at Hydro-Québec, among others, compensation—including premiums and indemnities—is disclosed. In my opinion, the public would benefit from that. We have no reason to hide it.
My second comment has to do with what my colleague Ms. Koutrakis said about the high-frequency rail. I don't have the right words like the ones she used about that project. It in no way replaces the high-speed train. As far as the environment goes, a high-speed train would directly compete with air connections. There would be several advantages to pass along. That's not really the same thing.
As far as cars go, they will be built in California rather than in Quebec or in Ontario. In Europe or in the United States, rail projects support rail companies set up on their territory. It would not have been complicated to impose a minimum of local content in order to maximize Canadian economic benefits. It was not a great idea.
I now go to my question. As I was saying earlier, the CIB is essentially used for project funding. Does the CIB eventually plan to undertake direct participation, such as a portion of infrastructure.
If so, I would like to bring your attention to the following issue. If the bank became a direct partner and had an interest in a municipal infrastructure project, the infrastructure would become federal in terms of jurisdiction because the bank is a federal corporation. When infrastructure under federal jurisdiction is involved, municipal regulations and provincial laws no longer apply. What should be done to guarantee that municipalities will still be masters of their own domain to establish environmental requirements, for instance?
Do you intend to accept direct participation? If so, what will you do for municipalities and provinces to remain masters of their own regulations?
I'm happy to answer that one, Annie.
First, let me make it absolutely clear, without any hesitation, the CIB is not in the business of privatization, full stop. None of the projects we are involved in involve privatization, nor will we go there, full stop.
In the case of Mapleton, it's important to understand the town was embarking on an ambitious and very innovative way to fill a very serious and real need for them. The town had already engaged other experts and was going down a path, and then they approached us and said, “Can you help us out here because despite what we want to do, we still feel there's a gap”. When the mayor of Mapleton approached us, he made it very, very clear that there were two criteria that were non-negotiable, and we absolutely bought in and agreed. One was that the Town of Mapleton calls the shots on the asset. It owns the asset at the end of the day. Two, Mapleton and their representatives set the rates. That's the way that program is being structured.
When you talk about a user fee, what I think we're really talking about is the rate base. You pay for a water bill the same way I pay for a water bill, the same way all of us on this call pay for a water bill every month. That's really what it's about. It's about the user base, not an additional or special fee. The real costs of building new infrastructure, we think, need to be recognized, and they made the decision—“they” being the Town of Mapleton—that they would recognize those costs by having the users of the water pay for the real costs of that water.
Thanks to the witnesses.
I won't have a lot of time for questions, but I want to talk about broadband.
Ms. Ropar, you said at the beginning of your presentation that one of the roles you have is advising government at all levels on investment opportunities. I tried to write your exact words, so correct me if that's incorrect.
Then, Mr. Casola, you also spoke in lines of questioning, I think from Mr. Poilievre, about the importance of the investments, and you said that maybe the private sector wouldn't be there. For me and my community, broadband is a perfect example.
We are right next to Toronto, so investing in the infrastructure for broadband in our community is not worth it to the private sector right now, because they have a customer base in Toronto that is growing and huge, and going 20 minutes away or any bit further north—and I'm talking even in urban Pickering, let alone the rural parts of my riding—it's not an economic investment worth making for those telecom companies. However, there would be an economic benefit to our country if more people had access to broadband.
How or what are you doing to work with, for example, municipal levels of government that desperately want to get into the broadband delivery to provide this resource? Then, can you maybe speak to what we can expect, because this is the number one issue in my riding, and how will the Infrastructure Bank be able to help tackle this enormous need in our community?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses.
This is a brief response to something that Mr. Poilievre put before us, which was the claim that LNG Canada didn't have any government subsidies.
I'll just correct you, Pierre. There's $5.3 billion in subsidies from the Government of British Columbia, plus $275 million in direct subsidies from the Government of Canada, plus a $1-billion tariff waiver issued by so the company doesn't have to buy Canadian steel and aluminum.
By the way, of the advertised 10,000 jobs in building that facility, 5,500 of them will be in China at a construction facility at Zhuhai, which is in Guangdong province. The construction is being done by a consortium of a Texas-based company, Fluor, and a Japan-based company called JGC, and they've managed to move the fabrication out of Canada and into China. I know how much you like funding projects in the People's Republic of China, so I just thought I'd make sure you had that.
Turning to our witnesses from the infrastructure development bank, I'm very interested in knowing more about how you're structuring projects in infrastructure in interties. I understand that you can't fund the publicly funded grid, such as Manitoba Hydro, but you can support the development of interties, which are much needed to ensure we have an effective national grid. Are other projects with interties in the works? Is it part of a larger concept?
I'd really love to hear from whoever feels equipped to speak to that.