Okay, folks, we'll get going. Welcome to meeting number 19 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format pursuant to the House order of January 25, 2021. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. Just so you are aware, the webcast will always show the person speaking rather than the entirety of the committee.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I will outline a few rules to follow. First off, members and witnesses, you may speak in the official language of your choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of the floor, English or French.
For members participating in person, proceed as you usually would when the whole committee is meeting in person in the committee room. Keep in mind the directives from the Board of Internal Economy regarding masking and health protocols.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. If you are on video conference, please click on the microphone icon to unmute yourself. For those in the room, your microphone will be controlled as normal by the proceedings and verification officer. I remind everyone that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair. When you are not speaking, your microphone should be on mute.
With regard to a speaking list, the committee clerk and I will, as always, do the best we can to maintain the order of speaking for all members whether they are participating virtually or in person.
Members, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Thursday, October 29, 2020 the committee is meeting today to continue its study on the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Now I'd like to welcome our witnesses.
First off, we have the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. Minister McKenna, welcome.
Following her, we have witnesses from her department, the Office of Infrastructure Canada: Kelly Gillis, deputy minister, infrastructure and communities; Glenn Campbell, assistant deputy minister, investment, partnerships and innovation; Mary McKay, director general, alternative finance, investment, partnerships and innovation; and Lisa Mitchell, senior director, investment, partnerships and innovation.
Members, we will start off the meeting with Minister McKenna and her five-minute opening.
Minister McKenna, the floor is yours.
I'd like to start by acknowledging that I'm in Ottawa on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe peoples. I'm really delighted to be here with my deputy, Kelly Gillis, and her amazing team.
Good afternoon to everyone on the committee. It's great to see you again.
Thank you very much for inviting me to discuss the importance of investing in infrastructure for Canadians and the role that the Canada Infrastructure Bank plays in our infrastructure plan. I want to thank the committee for undertaking this really important study.
First, I'd like to say that our government is committed to making critical infrastructure investments across the country that will help us build back better, create good jobs, grow our economy, create inclusive communities and tackle climate change.
There is no question that the Canada Infrastructure Bank plays an important role in our plan. The bank has already committed to infrastructure projects that contribute to creating jobs and growth, building inclusive and resilient communities, and helping us meet our climate targets.
By attracting private sector and institutional investors to infrastructure projects in the Canadian public interest, the Canada Infrastructure Bank brings a new approach that will impact how infrastructure in Canada is financed.
There is no question that the Canada Infrastructure Bank plays an important role in our plan. The bank has already committed to infrastructure projects that contribute to Canada’s economic growth, building inclusive and resilient communities, and that help meet our climate targets.
By attracting private sector and institutional investors to infrastructure projects in the Canadian public interest, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is taking a new approach that will impact the way infrastructure is funded in Canada.
The pandemic of the last year has challenged Canadians in countless ways. On top of the impact of the illness, death and public health measures to stop the spread of infection, we're now facing the challenge of building our economy back. The work we do and the decisions we make in the coming months and years will define our country's path for decades to come.
This is why the government is undertaking Canada's first national infrastructure assessment. By mapping out where we need to go, where gaps exist, what needs to be prioritized and how we will finance the investments in infrastructure that we need, we will enable provinces, territories, municipalities and indigenous communities to identify projects of key importance and get them built in the best interests of Canadians.
Let me take a couple of minutes to talk about where the Canada Infrastructure Bank is today. It has entered a new phase of development under a strong and capable leadership team. The bank is committed to developing and executing $35 billion in investments to get maximum long-term benefits for Canadians in five priority areas: clean power renewable generation, storage and transmission; broadband in underserved communities; building retrofits; agriculture irrigation projects to help prairie farmers; and zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure.
As the CIB is an arm's-length Crown corporation, the government sets the policy priorities and the CIB's board of directors is responsible for the organization's management and investment decisions. To ensure the organization's priorities remain aligned with the government's, last month I updated the CIB's statement of priorities and accountabilities. It now includes a target for the bank to invest at least a billion dollars in total across its five priority areas in revenue-generating projects that benefit indigenous peoples.
Additionally, last fall, our government joined the Canada Infrastructure Bank in announcing its growth plan, a clear plan for the crucial next three years. The three-year, $10-billion growth plan will be a key driver of our plan to build back better through its five major initiatives: clean power, broadband access, energy-efficient buildings, agricultural irrigation, and zero-emission buses.
The CIB has taken immediate action to implement its growth plan, first with a $407-million investment towards the largest agricultural irrigation project in Alberta. Recently, it announced an engagement with what is anticipated to be the largest battery storage facility in Canada, working with an indigenous community. The bank is also backing the REM, the largest public transit project in Montreal in half a century, and it's looking at how to expand the capacity of the New Westminster rail bridge in B.C. to boost trade and transportation.
The CIB now has priority sectors, an investment plan and a strong leadership team to play significant role in getting more and better projects built for Canadians across the country.
I am confident that the Canada Infrastructure Bank's investments will help to drive Canada's economic recovery and build the infrastructure we need, in all communities, for Canada's long-term success.
Canada's infrastructure plan is investing in thousands of projects across the country, creating jobs and building more inclusive communities.
I'd like to thank the member opposite, who is also my critic. It's great to see you here. I have a list of projects in your riding that I know you'd be very interested in. We've approved 43 projects worth over $763 million.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank is moving forward on a number of really great projects. One that is probably close to your heart is the investment in irrigation in Alberta. That's a great project with the Government of Alberta, which clearly recognizes the critical importance of the Canada Infrastructure Bank in getting major projects built and bringing in the private sector.
There's the REM project in Montreal.
Our friends in Montreal see that it is under construction today.
That's another great example of a project with the Caisse de dépôt that is moving forward. I can give you a whole range of examples of projects that are good projects that will make a difference.
Minister, I'm asking for a total amount of private sector investment. That's the question. We can all agree. Our party made commitments to public transit. We committed to expanding the GO line. We've made commitments for infrastructure in Montreal and those types of public transit.
Here's the thing with the infrastructure bank; this was supposed to be a marquee institution. This was a marquee project. This was the 's brilliant new innovative way to build the country. Your government courted investors worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the richest bankers and the wealthiest hedge fund managers. You even held a fancy party with all the bells and whistles at the Shangri-La Hotel, trying to unlock $16 trillion in institutional funds that you claimed were floating around the world waiting to invest. So far you haven't been able to complete a single thing.
Your government, your ministers and your CEOs at the bank have all made amazing claims that the $35 billion in taxpayers' money the infrastructure bank has would be able to unlock twice or four times, and even seven times the investment from the private sector. You've got a dozen or so projects listed on your website. Most of them are at the memorandum of understanding phase or the advisory services phase. It doesn't seem to me that providing advisory services on a project is going to unleash and unlock that private sector investment.
Where is all of this private sector money that you claimed would be coming in to take an ownership position to replace the need for taxpayers' money? In other words, what is the total—not just one project, but the total, so that we can evaluate if you're hitting your own metric? Your own metric is at least twice, and maybe four times, in private sector investment. What is the grand total of private sector investment in ownership of the projects that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is currently involved in?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister McKenna, for being with us today with your officials.
On Tuesday we heard some very interesting testimony, in particular from Mr. Bain with Concert Infrastructure, who also worked at Infrastructure Ontario and is very experienced in delivering projects. His comment was that, of course, project don't happen overnight. Also, as I think we're well aware, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is particularly charged with looking at complex projects.
Could you comment on how you see the process that was initiated a number of years ago, how it's developing and how you're making progress on those projects?
It was really interesting testimony. I think you get good witnesses who have very different perspectives on the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
As Mr. Bain pointed out, the real opportunity is to look at how we can get more infrastructure built. However, these projects take a number of years. You have to start somewhere. You have to start with feasibility studies, with MOUs, and work up to building the projects. This is a real opportunity.
If you look at some of the projects.... I've talked about the REM in Montreal and the Alberta irrigation project, that's a partnership with a Conservative premier who understands the importance of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
A really great project is the Oneida Energy storage project. That's a partnership with a first nation community, and it's going to be the largest battery storage project in North America, I believe. This is really about how we get more built, but also how we bring in indigenous people so they share in the these benefits.
There's Kivalliq hydro-fibre link MOU. That would be a 1,200 kilometre, 150 megawatt transmission line from Nunavut to New Brunswick. There's the Taltson hydroelectricity expansion project. I could go on. A whole range of diverse projects are in the priority areas.
As I said, it's about getting more infrastructure built for Canadians. When I go to communities across the country—to mayors, premiers and Canadians—they want more and better infrastructure built, because it creates jobs and growth; it increases Canada's competitiveness; it improves the quality of life for Canadians and, of course, it drives us to a net-zero future. Climate change is the other crisis we're in. We're in a health and economic crisis now, but we're also in a climate crisis.
The infrastructure bank is not the only way we are funding infrastructure, that's for sure, but it is a critically important part of our plan and an opportunity to get more and better infrastructure built.
I think this is a critical area of investment for Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. We need to deal with congestion. We also need to deal with air pollution caused by transportation, one of our largest categories of emissions. Over 20% of our emissions come from transportation. We just made a very big announcement of a separate commitment by the government to permanent public transit funding—$15 billion in additional money.
In terms of the bank, public transit is one of its five priority areas. There is $5 billion for the bank to invest in projects. We've seen them already investing in the REM, but there are obviously a lot of other opportunities.
In its growth plan, which is a more recent plan focused on the pandemic in the next three years and creating jobs and growth, it has committed $1.5 billion to zero-emission buses and related infrastructure. I think this is incredibly important. I'm sure that in your community folks would love to be riding in zero-emission buses. They are quieter and cleaner. Often they are made in Canada. It's a great story about Canadian innovation by bus companies, from New Flyer to Nova Bus to Lion Électrique to Ballard fuel-cell buses.
This is a real opportunity for Canada to be leading the way in creating, jobs, growth and, of course, building cleaner and more inclusive communities.
First of all, it's very nice to see the member. I know that the member opposite cares greatly about getting good infrastructure built for Canadians, and about our priorities of creating jobs, tackling climate change, and building more inclusive communities.
The whole role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank is to get more infrastructure built. Canadians are paying for infrastructure. We pay for infrastructure through our taxes. We make many investments in infrastructure. The opportunity here with the Canada Infrastructure Bank is to really look at how we can get more built, because the infrastructure deficit or gap or whatever you call it is huge in our country.
I know that because economists tell us that, but I also know that because if I go to any mayor or any premier, they will tell me their list of infrastructure projects, and we have an opportunity to use workers' dollars.
When you think about the Caisse de dépôt, that's Quebec workers' dollars at work to build more infrastructure for Canadians. I would say that's a good thing. The workers get a return on their investment. This is about their retirement.
As I said, let's not misunderstand the role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. It really is there working in partnership with, say, the Province of Quebec. They decided they wanted to do the REM. They came up with an arrangement, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank was able to, with innovative financing, play a role in a project that's making a huge difference.
You can say the same about Alberta. There's an irrigation project. It's really up to the partners, which, in many cases, are the provinces. They want to work with the Canada Infrastructure Bank in a model that makes sense for the people in their province. I think it is really important that you have the public sector regulating and determining the fees and being the ones who retain control.
This is really about looking at what the opportunities are, because right now—let's just be clear—Canadian workers' dollars are building infrastructure in Australia and across the world.
I think we also want to make sure that we're benefiting from those workers' savings, and that those help with their retirement. But, as I said, they also help with a whole range of other issues, including making sure that we build clean power, that we get more public—
I 100% stand by that priority.
We have a climate lens. That is actually a shout-out to my parliamentary secretary, who's here. I thank Andy Fillmore who brought in a private member's bill.
I believe you probably were there in support of that. Actually, you are new, so maybe your predecessor supported that. For every project over $10 million, or in the green infrastructure stream, there's a climate lens. I've been working hard on that. That is definitely something that is critically important, and we also need to make sure that we look at how we apply it across the board, to every single project, but without creating huge bureaucracy, because many of these are projects through the infrastructure program with provinces, territories, and municipalities, and capacity is not huge, so we need to be supporting them. It is incredibly important and it's good to see in the United States that they have said that as well.
The private member's bill was about projects that were $10 million and over, but we fund a lot of smaller projects.
As I said, I'm working very hard, and I'm happy to work with the member opposite, through a very practical approach, because I agree with you. I agree that every single project should undergo a climate lens. There is push-back, I will tell you, from certain provinces, and for smaller communities, getting the capacity to apply a climate lens can be a challenge, so I think we need to be mindful of that. The reality is that this is the way we have to go.
I agree with you that we have to be net zero by 2050; we need to exceed our 2030 target, and we have an opportunity because—guess what—buildings can now be built net zero. Retrofits can be harder for smaller communities and remote communities, but we have the technology in many cases, and now we need to apply the climate lens, create the right incentives, and move forward to a cleaner future.
Thank you, Chair, and hello, Minister. It's very nice to see you once again.
Minister, I will start where I left off the last time we got together, and that was with executive compensation. We had a conversation the last time about Monsieur Pierre Lavallee, who, when he departed from the Infrastructure Bank in April of 2020—well into the pandemic—received executive compensation of $600,000 at a time when we were just heading into the worst economic times Canada has ever known.
Also, of course, I understand that his predecessor, Mr. Michael Sabia, departed in October. Can you please inform the committee of whether or not Mr. Sabia also received extravagant executive compensation?
Let's be clear that Crown corporations work at arm's length from the government, and the rate of remuneration is based on the recommendation of the board and approved by the Governor in Council.
Michael Sabia, who is now serving as deputy minister of finance, was board chair. I don't know that you get extravagant compensation as chair. It's between $90,000 and $100,000 a year.
I will say that we do have a new CEO, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank has been very transparent about the CEO's salary. His base salary range is...the total compensation is 40% lower than the previous CEO's. I have high hopes for Mr. Cory as CEO. He comes from Infrastructure Ontario. I think we're in a new stage at the bank. It was very important to me personally to get the bank on track to really deliver, especially now, because we are in the greatest recession since the Great Depression.
Okay. That's a “no”, Minister. Thank you very much.
My second question has to do with a project that you've mentioned several times and that your colleagues in the last meeting mentioned as well. It's the Alberta irrigation project. Actually, every time I hear the name of this project, it's like nails on a chalkboard to me, because I'm not certain how you could possibly feel that one infrastructure bank project could replace an entire industry, which your government, under your helm, destroyed, and that is the natural resources sector. That was a result of the implementation of Bill , Bill and the carbon tax.
Also, just yesterday, your government had an opportunity to help offset that by supporting the agricultural sector, which you claim you are trying to help with the Alberta irrigation project, by supporting Bill , and instead, you and your government didn't support it. You voted against it.
How can you possibly feel that a single project for Alberta could resolve the entire destruction of the industry here under your leadership over the last five years?
Thank you, Minister, for being with us today.
I just want to say thanks, also, for your words about the climate lens and our continued work to make it better and stronger as we go forward. Thank you for that.
First of all, your critic has complained that there aren't enough projects and that projects aren't going fast enough, yet he wanted to cut $18 billion from the infrastructure fund, which would have been about half the budget of the CIB. Then we just heard from Ms. Kusie some strange sentiments with regard to climate action and the importance of having a price on carbon in this country and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
Putting those two things together, I just wonder if you could talk to the committee about why this is the right moment, this moment when we are in a pandemic, when workforce participation is low and when there is a climate crisis. Why is now the time, more than ever, to be investing in infrastructure that is green and smart and helps us to transition to a low-carbon economy rather than hobbling it by budget cuts?
I think that's a really important point.
I'm someone who cares greatly about taxpayer dollars. I believe that every dollar that we invest has to get multiple outcomes. What does it have to get, especially right now when we're in an economic crisis, the greatest crisis since the Great Depression? We need jobs. We've committed, as a government, to creating a million jobs. We need growth.
We also need more inclusive communities and better infrastructure. By “inclusive”, I don't just mean indigenous communities and racialized communities; I also mean that rural areas need good infrastructure.
Three, we need to make sure that we're tackling climate change, because climate change is real. Also, I just think that with regard to this idea that tackling climate change is negative for the economy, we just have to look at the economy down south. The United States is going big in taking action on climate change, because that's where the opportunities are. That's where the growth is. That's where the jobs are. That's what we need to be doing.
It is worrying, though, to think that if you had a Conservative government, it would cut infrastructure dollars. This is absolutely the wrong time to do that. We need to be investing in infrastructure, and if you look at what we've done since the pandemic hit in March.... Every single week, my department has to bear with me, because I go through every single project that we are reviewing. We've approved 1,864 projects worth $2.85 billion since last March.
Do you know how many projects the Conservative government approved during its four-year majority? Nine hundred and seventy-five projects. In one year, in the middle of a pandemic, during a minority government, we've approved 1,864 while the previous Conservative government in four years only approved 975 projects.
Our projects are across the country, in Conservative ridings, in Bloc ridings, in NDP ridings and in Liberal ridings, and in rural communities and urban communities. These projects are helping create good jobs, growing their economies, tackling climate change and improving the quality of life of Canadians. That's what we want to do.
In the greatest recession since the Great Depression, and with a climate crisis, we need to be building back better, and that is what we are going to continue to do. That is what I'm going to continue to do every day, and we're going to be working with the Canada Infrastructure Bank looking in leveraging private sector investment to get more and better infrastructure built. I think we will look back at this time and say, “The pandemic was terrible, but guess what? We managed to make a transformational, once-in-a-generation difference in building infrastructure that is making a huge difference in the lives of Canadians, to our prosperity, to our competitiveness, and also in tackling climate change.”
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Minister, I want to respond to a couple of pieces of misinformation that some members on the committee have pointed out. First of all, when the Liberals try to make accusations about what our party was promising in the last election, it's important to keep in mind that 40% of the infrastructure dollars that were allocated in the first couple of years, 2017 and 2018, under your government, Minister, lapsed. That means it never got spent. It never got out the door. Your department's own internal audits have raised massive red flags in several areas. The Auditor General is currently investigating the infrastructure plan that your government has been rolling out.
The second thing I want to address is this idea that large projects take time. Of course you're right, Minister. There's no argument there. There's no argument that it takes more than just a few days or a couple of weeks to get a large infrastructure project built. Surely to goodness you can agree, though, that in four years the bank should have something to show for it. The previous CEO was paid a bonus, which usually, under Treasury Board guidelines, is reserved for exceeding expectations. I don't know what you were expecting the Infrastructure Bank to deliver, but since zero projects were completed and the former CEO received a bonus for that, you must have been expecting even less than that.
When we go back and look at the P3 fund that the previous Conservative government had, to do exactly what it is you're talking about, which is to unleash private sector investment, I can go over a long list of projects that were completed in a short period of time.
A water and waste-water plan in Kananaskis country was announced in 2012 and completed in 2014. In your hometown of Hamilton, the Hamilton biosolids project was announced in 2017 and operational in 2020. In my hometown of Regina, a large bypass and overpass project was put out for tender in 2014. Construction work began in 2015, the first phase was done in 2017 and the project was completed by 2019. The Iqaluit airport was—
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I have outlined several large-scale projects. These are the types of projects that actually do provide a great deal of economic spinoff. There are all kinds of benefits. There is private sector involvement in these projects. The old P3 fund, which your government eliminated and replaced with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, was able to deliver on this. You must have concluded that something was wrong with the P3 plan. You came up with your own system.
In that system, in this Canada Infrastructure Bank, you have made all kinds of claims about leveraging twice, seven times the.... One of your officials even claimed at one point it was eleven times the investment, that for every dollar you put in from taxpayers' money, you would get eleven dollars back from the private sector.
So far, the only example of private sector that you have been able to point to is Réseau in Montreal, a project that was already green-lit. It was already going to get federal government funding. The Canada Infrastructure Bank just replaced traditional funding programs with that.
Do you have any other examples—of all the projects that are being listed—of where the private sector has invested and where you have been able to leverage that? Is your threshold for success with the Canada Infrastructure Bank still the two times, four times or seven times multiplier for private investment for every taxpayer dollar?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Earlier, we finished our round of questions on the issue of the independence of the Canada Infrastructure Bank from the government. I found it surprising that a grant that was to be given to the REM was turned into a loan. Surely a government decision must have been made because I assume it was not the Canada Infrastructure Bank that decided to convert the grant.
If we go further, Mr. Sabia, after passing through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, became Deputy Minister of Finance. That's quite a tight relationship with the government.
In the last economic update, you announced, if I'm not mistaken, that there might be money to invest in the REM station at the Montreal airport. However, the announcement came from the government, not the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Let's take VIA Rail as another example. A little over a year ago, in June 2019, you announced that you would spend $55 million on a comprehensive review of the project. Since then, your government has been completely silent, as has the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
This time, will you hide behind the independence of the Canada Infrastructure Bank and not approve the project?
Welcome, Minister and officials.
Minister, I was a mayor and the president of the municipal association for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and a member of the board of directors of the FCM for four years. We often debated and called on the federal government for investments of this magnitude in infrastructure, and we didn't get a whole lot of support from the previous, Conservative government. The FCM put a major effort in and is delighted with the support it's received from our government since 2015.
Minister, access to high-speed Internet, particularly in rural Canada, is crucially important. It's really come to the fore during this COVID-19 period, which has forced people to work from home of course, and to do remote schooling, virtual medicine and a whole bunch of stuff.
The CIB has identified broadband as a priority investment area in terms of how it's going to help address this critical shortfall. I'd like you to comment on that for me, please.
As a former mayor, you know how important infrastructure is to the quality of life. Right now, if not the top priority, one of the absolute top priorities in terms of infrastructure investments has to be in broadband. It's not just a productivity issue; it's an equity issue. That's why our government is making historic investments in broadband. It's part of the infrastructure program I am responsible for.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank identified it as a key priority, so it is one of the priorities that's set out for investment in the next three years. It's $2 billion for large-scale broadband projects. We really need large-scale projects, because we need to connect a lot of people to high-speed broadband.
They have a longer-term goal. It's $3 billion for unserved and underserved communities. They're working with our government to identify opportunities, as well as with other governments. That's a real opportunity. It's all hands on deck when it comes to broadband, and we need to accelerate quickly. We've said we want to have all Canadians connected to broadband, and we need to do that as fast as possible.
Welcome to our Minister and our guests.
Madam Minister, the REM project is really important to Quebeckers.
Let me ask you one question, and I'd be grateful if you could give us a detailed explanation.
We have heard a lot of criticism, particularly from the Conservatives, that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is not doing anything. I'm surprised, because I represent a riding in the Montreal area and the REM transit system in Montreal is a major project. The Canada Infrastructure Bank is helping to finance the REM, a project that is moving forward and creating jobs.
I hope you can talk a little about the Canada Infrastructure Bank's involvement in the REM project and also about how the Conservatives are presenting it.
I thank my colleague for the question.
I do not think it is just the Conservatives. The Bloc Québécois is also asking questions, wondering whether this is a good project, when people in Montreal and the Government of Quebec are telling me that it is a very important project to them. It is the biggest project for Montreal in the last 50 years.
Personally, I want to see the REM extended, and there is a good chance that it will happen.
Let me give you some figures. The REM is benefiting from a $1.3 billion investment from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. This project will build 26 stations over 67 kilometers. This means that 26 communities will be served by the REM. This is a major project.
One aspect that's really important to our government and to me is the number of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions that are generated, and this project represents a reduction of 680,000 tonnes of those emissions over 25 years.
Also, as I said, we need jobs. This project is creating 34,000 jobs.
This is a very good example of how we can make a difference by working with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, with the provinces, like Quebec, with cities, like Montreal, and with the public.
It's not just about numbers, it's about people's lives. Imagine someone who has to get to work. They would not have to endure the many congestion problems that Montreal has. Using the REM would mean they would come home more quickly to be with their children.
Thank you, Mr. Rogers and Mr. El-Khoury.
We're now going to move into our second hour.
We have Mr. Scheer, from the Conservative Party, for five minutes; Mr. El-Khoury for five minutes; Mr. Barsalou-Duval for two and a half minutes; Mr. Bachrach for two and a half minutes; Mr. Shipley, from the Conservatives, for five minutes; and we finish off with Mr. Sidhu, from the Liberal Party, once again, for five minutes.
Ms. McKenna, I understand that you have to go to another appointment, so thank you very much for your participation today.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I think I'll just take a few seconds to highlight something the minister said. She said that the whole point of the Canada Infrastructure Bank was to get more infrastructure built, and so far it has completed zero projects. Compare that with the Conservative P3 fund, which actually successfully delivered projects. We were able to see the completion of 25 large-scale infrastructure projects in about seven and a half to eight years, depending on how you calculate if. If the Canada Infrastructure Bank is going to try to get more than that, then they're off to a very poor start.
Maybe the officials can help us out with some of the questions that the minister didn't want to answer. I'm hoping someone here can tell me. The minister pointed to the Réseau project in Montreal. Fine, we all know it was an existing project that would have been funded through other formulas, other envelopes of spending. The Canada Infrastructure Bank did not unlock anything, because those commitments were already made.
Other than the Réseau project, rounded to the nearest hundred million dollars, can someone tell me how much private sector investment the Canada Infrastructure Bank has secured so far?
As the minister mentioned, in the REM project with the CDPQ, there has been a commitment of $3 billion by the Quebec pension plan. In a number of other projects that are under way right now, the CIB is in discussion with private partners for investments.
As for the follow-up question, I believe that the CIB officials are coming to the committee in a couple weeks, so I think a further discussion with them on the outlook for private investment would be completely appropriate.
I would like to correct some of the facts on P3 Canada. P3 Canada was devolved into Infrastructure Canada, so we are overseeing the 25 P3 agreements. Four of them have not yet reached completion, and two of them will reach completion this year. Infrastructure does take time to complete. They are ongoing and they are very good projects.
Right, but as I mentioned, there are several projects here that, from start to finish, took fewer than four years. I can confirm that for you. I can save you the work there.
I want to clear. The Montreal project aside, because I'm not really sure that it's fair to include the Montreal project in what the Canada Infrastructure Bank has been able to unleash because it was already green-lit and committed to because the caisse's involvement had been already arranged. Basically the Canada Infrastructure Bank just displaced federal dollars that would have come through other channels.
The reason this is important is that this particular study is about the bank itself. The Auditor General is doing an investigation into mismanagement in other infrastructure envelopes. This study is narrowly focused on the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
This government took $35 billion in tax dollars and told all of us that with that $35 billion, they would get back at least $70 billion, and maybe even $105 billion. Depending on which day and how excited some of the officials were, we were told it was 11 times that, so we might get back over $380 billion worth of private sector investment.
I want to clarify this one more time. I'm sure that the CIB reports to the minister. It's been in operation for four years. Rounded to the nearest $100 million, if you take the Montreal project aside, how much private sector investment has this $35 billion resulted in?
Okay. Thank you very much.
In the letter of the statement of priorities and accountabilities, the main focus areas were the priority areas for investment, namely, a continuation of trade and transportation, transit, and green, but also more specificity to allow for connectivity, given the urgency today of connectivity and high-speed broadband Internet in rural and remote communities, as well as the billion-dollar investment in indigenous communities.
Last, like the , I'll just mention the national infrastructure assessment and the importance of having an evidence-based understanding of what is important, what the gaps are and how we can address and prioritize them for the Canada Infrastructure Bank to be able to support us where their model makes sense, and what those opportunities could be.
Those would be some of the key areas the minister outlined in her letter to the board of directors.
My second question is for Mr. Campbell.
Mr. Campbell, Canada is one of the world's biggest investors in infrastructure, partly because of its large public pension funds. However, in the past, there have been relatively few infrastructure investments in the country.
Given that the returns generated by these funds are used to provide a secure and respectable retirement for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, it seems that everyone would benefit from further investments in Canadian projects. We've already seen a successful example, when the Canada Infrastructure Bank joined forces with Quebec's largest pension fund to invest in Montreal's REM public transit system.
What do you think the Canada Infrastructure Bank should do or should continue to do to attract more investment in the Canada pension fund?
Beginning with the testing of witnesses and the use of headsets and whatnot, our current practice is that all witnesses are tested before appearing at committee. We make every effort to make sure that every witness is provided with a headset. It's not always possible to get a witness a headset in time. We do have express delivery of those headsets and the House makes every effort to get them to witnesses. If they're in a major metropolitan area, we can get them to the witnesses the next morning. On that issue, when dealing with testing of witnesses, if the committee would like to codify it as a practice, that is great, but I will point out that we're already doing it, just to reassure all members this is indeed the case.
With regard to the other motions, Mr. Bachrach raised an issue of when it comes to amendments from the floor. My concern just administratively here in trying to support the committee is who would be doing this translation service. It's not actually a function of the interpreters in the room. Some motions, particularly when you start to deal with bills and whatnot, cannot just be done via straight translation. There actually are specialized translators who work on those documents.
Certainly it's not the role of the clerk to do that. The clerk could not be translating documents at committee. We are not certified translators. That said, those are just some administrative concerns.
On motions, the committee does have a routine motion that all documents, of course, are to be distributed only by the clerk and only when they're available in both official languages. One would expect that does occur pretty much in a hundred per cent of the cases that I can think of here in committee.
I am trying to think of any other pertinent information.
There's an issue with the Translation Bureau as well. Sometimes we have stakeholder groups or whatnot who provide us with pre-translated briefs. Maybe they're already posted on their websites. These could be publications that the stakeholder group has already put out in both languages. Sometimes these are copyrighted, and so to have those then sent to the Translation Bureau might be a little bit problematic, but, of course, if the committee wants us to do that, we can do that.
(Motion agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
The Chair: Thank you, members.
Thank you, Mr. Clerk, and thank you to the mover, Mr. Barsalou-Duval.
We'll now move back to the speaker, Mr. El-Khoury.
You still have the floor, and you have about four minutes left.
Thank you for the questions.
In terms of major projects, several of the Canada Infrastructure Bank's priority areas are green sectors.
If we take the example of public transit, we can see that reducing greenhouse gas emissions provides major climate benefits. The Canada Infrastructure Bank's corporate plan outlines the commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plan looks at what can be done in this sector, what positive steps could be taken, and how to ensure transparency in this area.
A number of other projects related to the priorities focus on clean power and transmission. These aspects significantly affect the environment because they help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
First off, after Parliament approved authority for the $35 billion, the government's fiscal framework and policy in the budget set out that the $35 billion would have a net fiscal expense of $15 billion. Then it was spread out over time.
Given that it was not clear what the projects would be and at what profile, there was an estimated amount of a couple billion dollars per year, back-end loaded. I don't have those figures at my disposal, but it started with the smaller amount and ended up at around $2 to $3 billion a year at the end of 10 years.
That was the financial plan, if you will, that was coupled with an operational plan of setting up the entity and then really going out to consult with provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous groups and investors as to what the projects would be. The government's plan was to adjust that fiscal financial profile based on the response that was received, which is not unusual for setting up these types of entities.
I would say that when we went back, and as the lead in helping the government and the new corporation set out that plan, it was prospective. It was really going to depend on market response as to a project's coming forward under either an integrated bilateral agreement or the CIB. Given the CIB's details and the fact that its offering was not available to, say, a municipality, there was no way to know what project would potentially come forward. There were some major projects that were under way, such as the REM, but those still needed to be negotiated and structured.
We'd anticipated from the experience, including PPP Canada and others, that it might take several years to identify a project or potential structures. The private sector typically would want to come in early and help design it before it moved forward, so we had planned accordingly that it might take some time for the structures to come together.
My last point is that the CIB has, from then and today, an advisory and an educational mandate. They knew in the early days that a lot of the bank was going to be helping municipalities, provinces and indigenous groups imagine what the power of that tool could be and how to partner with the private sector. We put more operational emphasis on that outreach and development rather than necessarily building out the systems to handle investments, which we knew was going to take time to do.
Thank you, Ms. Gillis, Mr. Campbell, Ms. McKay and Ms. Mitchell, for being with us today. I'd like to thank your department for the important work that you're doing for communities across Canada, especially here in Brampton: the $45-million recent investment by the federal government into Brampton Transit, which is the largest investment into Brampton Transit in over 10 years. To my understanding, the federal Liberal government has invested 13 times more than the previous government into transit, which will support so many communities across Canada, so thank you for the wonderful work.
Ms. Gillis, I have been reading about clean power projects across the country and how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help us achieve our emission reduction targets. The Canada Infrastructure Bank has committed to invest $5 billion in clean power projects across the country and $2.5 billion in the next three years.
Can you talk about what kinds of projects the Canada Infrastructure Bank will be looking at funding in the clean power area?
Under the rubric of clean power, as the deputy said, there are renewable-type projects. For example, the CIB is undertaking an advisory engagement with the Northwest Territories, both with the territory's utility and indigenous groups, about how to increase the megawatts of power, and clean power, in that region over time and bringing in private investment to help them manage some of their engineering risks, but also to more efficiently deliver power in the north.
In B.C., for example, there's talk both around renewable projects as well as transmission lines, supporting first nations, and how to bring clean power to enable the natural gas industry that's burgeoning in the central part of British Columbia. Again, it's just dialogue at this stage, but now we're starting to see real responsiveness by the utilities once they what might be the value of partnering. Similarly, between Manitoba and Saskatchewan, there are some discussions about how the two journeys partner together and do things a little more boldly—not in the traditional ways that utilities have done it—and bring in partners.
Finally, there is the Atlantic Loop that my deputy, Ms. Gillis, mentioned, which I'm involved in, given that a number of departments are supporting that effort, including our own infrastructure tools to see how a backbone of transmission lines can get clean power from Labrador and/or Quebec in to help New Brunswick and Nova Scotia move off coal-powered generation. I think it's clear that the risk and ingenuity needs to be managed on both sides. Bringing private partners and capital into some of those equations can relieve the burden on both the ratepayer and the taxpayer.
To go back to an earlier comment, there are many large pension institutional investors that are looking to recycle pensioners' capital and others' capital into these long-term assets and really partner with governments to achieve public policy purposes. Now, even for private funds, given their move towards investor demands for ESG and climate-friendly investments, having partners in clean power and distribution really meshes. It's a win-win if we can do it, and we need the CIB there largely because these complex deals need that balancing and structuring to make that work.
This area holds a lot of promise. These projects are big and complex in any event, and I think they are an area where the CIB can bring a lot of value.
Thank you, Mr. Sidhu, and to everyone else.
Before I do let everyone go, there are two things. One, I do want to thank members for their participation and their questions today. Equally, if not more important, were the answers by and dialogue with Minister McKenna, as well as her team.
Thank you for your time today and being a part of the interventions.
Lastly, to committee members, we do have to take our next steps with the report on the impacts of COVID-19 on the airline industry. We will need drafting instructions from each individual party. What I'm requesting from each party—one from the Liberals, one from the Conservatives, one from the Bloc and one from the NDP—is that we receive drafting instructions no later than next Thursday, March 4, so that we can hand those to the analysts who will, of course, come back with a draft report.
Is everybody okay with that? Are there any questions? No.
Mr. Clerk, do you want to add anything?