I call this meeting to order.
Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to meeting number 5 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 September 23. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. Just so that you are aware, the webcast will always show the person speaking, rather than the entire committee.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
Members and witnesses may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice, at the bottom of your screen, of either the floor, English or French.
For members participating in person, proceed as you usually would when the whole committee is meeting in person in a committee room. Keep in mind the directives from the Board of Internal Economy regarding masking and health protocols.
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With regard to a speaking list, the committee clerk and I will do the best we can to maintain the order of speaking for all members, whether they are participating virtually or in person.
Pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), the committee is commencing its study today on the main estimates 2020-21, as well as the supplementary estimates (B) 2020-21.
Now it's my pleasure to welcome our witnesses.
First off is the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, as well as Kelly Gillis, the deputy minister of infrastructure and communities.
Minister McKenna, once again, welcome, and the floor is yours.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank my team, including my deputy minister Kelly Gillis, and everyone who has been able to put this together virtually.
I am pleased to appear before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to answer any questions on the 2020-21 main and supplementary estimates (B).
Without doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on our country, on our health and welfare, on our economy and on the work of the government. Many things have changed since the pandemic began. Although we have tailored our programs at Infrastructure Canada to better respond to it, our priorities and responsibilities remain the same and we are working very hard to achieve results for Canadians.
The supplementary estimates (B) for the 2020-21 fiscal year include items that required adjustments for a variety of reasons, and we are seeking a net increase of $52.9 million.
For example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched the new Canada healthy communities initiative to support community-driven solutions that improve quality of life. To accomplish this, we are seeking $4.9 million of unused 2019-20 funds from the smart cities challenge program for this new initiative. Canadians are adapting to the realities of COVID-19, and this program will help us keep people safe and healthy, support economic recovery and build pandemic-resilient communities.
For the Samuel De Champlain Bridge Corridor project, we’re seeking $48.3 million of unused funds from 2019-2020 to be used for 2020-2021. We are also seeking to transfer $310,000 to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support mobility and public transportation.
All of this work supports our long-term infrastructure plan for stronger, more inclusive communities and lasting economic, environmental and social benefits for years to come. These are the same objectives as those of our historic Investing in Canada plan.
This plan will be key to getting out of this economic crisis, ensuring our long-term prosperity, and to building a cleaner and more resilient future for all Canadians, who are the foundation of our departmental plan.
Since March 1, under the largest program led by my department, the investing in canada infrastructure program, we've approved over 700 projects representing a federal investment of over $1.2 billion. This contributes to good jobs across the country from planning to design to construction to businesses all along the supply chain.
We also launched a new COVID-19 stream within that program. These projects will benefit from an increased 80% federal cost-share in the provinces, and a 100% cost-share for indigenous projects and projects in the territories. These are projects like upgrading schools or long-term care homes with things like HVAC and physical distancing measures, or building new parks, and cycling and walking paths to help Canadians get outside and stay active.
We're also pleased to see the Canada Infrastructure Bank hitting its stride under new board chair, Michael Sabia, and new CEO, Ehren Cory, with projects like the $815 million irrigation plan for southern Alberta as part of the bank's three-year $10 billion growth plan.
However, it's not enough for governments to simply shovel out infrastructure dollars. It's about the outcomes Canadians get in return. Every taxpayer dollar that is spent will do triple duty creating jobs and economic growth, making communities cleaner and more resilient—meeting our goal of net zero by 2050—and making communities inclusive, so that everyone has a fair shot to succeed.
Every taxpayer dollar that is spent will do triple duty—creating jobs and economic growth, making communities cleaner and more resilient in order to achieve our objective of net-zero emissions by 2050, and making communities inclusive so that everyone has a fair shot to succeed.
In the Speech from the Throne on September 23, we set out our government's ambition to create a million jobs as we recover from the economic shock of the pandemic. Investments in infrastructure are key to that ambition.
We are contributing to our country’s recovery by helping communities get back on their feet, supporting them to get more infrastructure built, creating jobs and building a stronger, cleaner, healthier and more connected country.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to answering your questions.
I would like to welcome the member from Regina—Qu'Appelle. It's great to see him as the new critic for infrastructures and communities. I certainly think it reflects the importance your party puts on infrastructure that you're in this position.
The weather here is not amazing, but it's not terrible. We announced our net zero legislation today, so that was good. I was outside.
With regard to the Canada Infrastructure Bank, I think it plays an extremely important role. I would hope that the Conservative party would agree with that because we need more infrastructure built, and we need to bring in the private sector to do that.
I am happy to get back to him with the answer. The Canada Infrastructure Bank is an independent organization, and we're happy to follow up with the answer to his question.
I would like to thank the member for the question.
As I say, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is now hitting its stride. It is moving forward in a whole range of projects.
Probably the best one is the REM project in Montreal. That's an extremely popular project. I'd be happy to accompany the member opposite, when circumstances allow, to view the REM. It's creating thousands of jobs. It's also going to help grow the economy there.
I also would point to an announcement that was just made with the Government of Alberta. It's a new MOU with the Conservative government that recognizes the importance of bringing in the bank and the private sector. This is something that I'm sure the member opposite would appreciate, because it's also very important to his province. It's modernizing irrigation district infrastructure and increasing water storage capacity. This is going to result in an $850 million investment, creating 6,800 direct and indirect permanent jobs.
You've referenced two projects, one that which you've signed a memorandum of understanding for.
The question was, however, that you've had almost four years with this institution. This bank announced with great fanfare. It was going to be your government's signature vehicle to do infrastructure differently. It was supposed to lead to dozens and dozens of private sector funds investing in these types of projects.
Here we are, almost four years out, with $35 billion and millions of dollars' worth of operating costs. You must have completed something. Can you just tell this committee how many projects have been finished? Not memorandums of understanding or work under way, but how many projects have been completed?
As the member opposite would know, it actually takes some time. I know that everyone at the REM project is working extremely hard. They would love to see it completed, but it doesn't work like that.
Some of the other engagements are the Contrecoeur Port de Montreal, District Energy in Richmond, B.C., and hydroelectricity in the Northwest Territories.
Maybe I'll just go to the Conservative Party's platform because I'm trying to understand.... We do want to get more infrastructure built. That's why we're investing, for example, 13 times the amount of the Conservative Party said it would in infrastructure. You were part of the party that wanted to kill $18 billion in the infrastructure budget. I'm just wondering if that is still your party's position.
What projects, in your riding, would you want to kill? We have the Town of Ituna water distribution and supply, new water and waste water, lagoon expansion and new lift station, and drinking water treatments systems. I would say that those are very important infrastructure investments.
It's not just the bank. It's what our government is doing, working with the provinces, territories and municipalities.
With all due respect, Minister, you referenced the Infrastructure Bank. I'm just trying to get an understanding, after it has been being allocated $35 billion. I'm assuming the answer is zero. I don't know why, if the answer is zero, you can't just say “zero”.
As you know, our P3 model and infrastructure programs during our previous Conservative government got the job done. We built massive projects all across the country, and it was our commitment in the campaign to actually get things done.
We've heard from stakeholders across the country who are saying dollars aren't flowing. We've heard from ministers in provincial governments who are saying there are projects submitted that are waiting for federal approval. We could be getting more projects built, but there's a massive problem within the department of actually getting those projects out the door.
I want to go back to the announcement with the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Mr. Sabia said, during that press conference, that “hope isn't a plan” and that the plan that you, Mr. Sabia, and the announced was the result of “a serious analysis of current and potential projects. In short, this plan is real.” Minister, have you seen the plan?
Thank you very much. That was a really great project, and it's a partnership of the federal government directly with the municipality. I think it was great that we were able to make such a big investment, but let's talk about that project. I like talking about real things.
It's not just investments of money. It's investments in people and the economy. I have had the chance to go to Brampton, and this is going to make a huge difference in dealing with flooding that we've seen there, which impacted thousands of residents. But it also means that you can actually build more businesses and more housing there.
So this is an extremely important investment that is going to make a real difference. That was $38 million and it was going to create, I think Mayor Brown said, over 50,000 jobs, good jobs that we need right now. Our disaster mitigation and adaptation fund has supported 59 projects across the country providing $1.7 billion towards these projects. The reality is, as you've said, that climate change is real and is having a real impact that's imposing serious costs on Canadians. We need to be making our communities more resilient to deal with the impacts of extreme weather and with the realities of climate change, and we're going to continue to do that.
I could list a whole range of projects that have made a big difference that I've been able to witness in communities, where people are so happy that we're taking their concerns seriously.
Flooding has a real impact on people. It has an impact on their health. It has an impact on their communities. And we can be more resilient and, of course, build a cleaner future.
That's a really great question, so thank you very much to the member for the question.
Look, we know that climate change is real, that emissions from the transportation sector are a significant portion of our emissions, and we have an opportunity to do a lot better by making investments in electric vehicles and, more broadly, in public transit. It's really amazing because there's another benefit to that, which is that it's a Canadian supply chain. If you look at where electric buses are made, there's New Flyer in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Nova Bus and Lion Electric in Quebec. There are really great opportunities to be creating jobs while we do this, and I've made a number of investments across the country in electric buses. We made a commitment of 5,000 electric buses. We were just talking about the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Part of their growth plan is investing in electric buses with us so that we can get more buses electrified, and that's a huge priority. I've really seen that across the country, including in your own province.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Welcome to the committee, Ms. McKenna.
Earlier, I heard you talk about all kinds of infrastructure projects but there is one topic that I did not hear you raise. However, I have had the opportunity to discuss it with you on a number of occasions and perhaps your thinking may have evolved since.
For about a year, we have been talking to you about the criteria imposed on municipalities under the Gas Tax Fund and Quebec's Contribution, or TECQ. Municipalities have been writing to me in their hundreds—and we have made a collection of their resolutions—to denounce those criteria and to demand to finally be able to use the funds for city halls, fire stations, municipal garages and warehouses. I feel that you are very familiar with the subject.
I would like to know whether any specific loosening of those criteria is foreseen. You will understand that, at the height of this pandemic, municipalities need money in order to carry out their projects. It will help them financially and it will also help the economy.
Thank you for the question.
The federal gas tax fund is certainly important for Quebec. We have contributed more than $2.5 billion to support communities, whatever their size.
As for the way in which it works, I feel that it is really important to understand that the situation in Quebec is different from the other provinces of Canada. Quebec is responsible for administering the federal gas tax fund through its own program. This allows it to ensure that the investments support the infrastructure projects that directly benefit municipalities.
The federal gas tax fund provides money for infrastructures that are mainly intended for public use or benefit, such as sports centres or cultural and tourist infrastructures, rather than municipal buildings that principally serve the municipal administration. I know that we have talked about that a lot.
Discussions are underway with the Government of Quebec with a view to establishing a new component with a broader scope: the COVID-19 Resilience stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. This will help municipalities a lot, including with their municipal buildings.
Thank you, Madam Minister.
I think I have an answer to my question, but essentially, you read the program description to me. I am pleased to know that discussions are underway. It will be interesting to find out whether those discussions go in the direction of what is being proposed here. In fact, according to the information I have, it seems that the blockage is on the federal side, in terms of giving more flexibility to the municipalities.
The problem is that those small municipalities are in difficulty at the moment. They have experienced huge drops in revenue and I feel that it would be good to give them flexibility and space during these times. It would help them a lot. We are talking about municipalities like Berthierville, Amos, La Sarre, La Malbaie, Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu and Louiseville, to name but a few. Hundreds of municipalities are affected by these restrictive policies and I feel that a sympathetic ear on the part of the government would be welcome.
You talked a lot about the Canada Infrastructure Bank with my Conservative colleague and you also brought up the Contrecœur Terminal project for the Port of Montreal. You were the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the past. You have probably therefore kept an eye on the file and you must also know that yesterday, the project received approval from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
I would really like to know why the project has not yet received federal funding through, for example, the National Trade Corridors Fund. Although Quebec has a lot of good projects like that, it receives less than 10% of the money from the fund.
I know that your answer will be that the Canada infrastructure Bank has a $300 million agreement. But that agreement is just a loan, not a grant. Yet grants exist and the other provinces have had access to that fund. Why do Quebec and the Contrecœur Terminal project not have access to it?
Thank you. However, what is important to me is that Quebec receives its fair share of federal investments. At the moment, that is not the case. When we put good projects on the table, I feel that those projects must be financed and get the appropriate attention.
We currently have another problem: all the cities are in difficulty, of course, but airports are too. The aviation sector is severely affected.
Earlier, you also talked about the Canada Infrastructure Bank and said that funding for the Réseau express métropolitain, or REM, was on your list. However, because of the pandemic, the Montreal airport no longer has a penny to its name, which puts the link with the REM at the airport in jeopardy.
The Government of Quebec has so far invested $1.2 billion in the REM project. It seems like the federal government does not want to provide its share of the investment required to bring the project to a conclusion and we would like to know why. Will you eventually be putting any money into it?
Thank you for being with us today, Minister.
I want to start with the topic of the climate crisis. I know this is something that you and I share as an urgent concern. You've spoken quite a bit about climate action being a priority for your department. Yet looking at the departmental plan for 2020-21, it really doesn't speak at all to Infrastructure's role in meeting Canada's emission reduction targets. I believe there is one line in there with a target of having 3.5% of municipalities enhance their “capacity to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions and adapt to climate change as a result of federal funding”, but there is no quantification and there are no metrics.
With none of these specific measures in the departmental plan, how can Canadians be assured that we're on track to meet the targets with regard to the contribution of specifically Infrastructure?
That's a really great question.
As you know, I am passionate about action on climate change. We just announced our net-zero legislation. Infrastructure, as I say, either increases emissions or reduces them, and makes us either more or less resilient. We have a climate lens on projects right now. The legislation was actually brought in. It was a private member's bill, as you would know, by my great parliamentary secretary . It only applies to projects of $10 million and over.
I certainly agree that we need to be looking from a climate perspective at every single project. That is something that I am committed to and we are looking at instituting. I also agree that we need to be creating incentives for communities to make the right decision to lower their emissions. We need to be understanding how much they're going to be lowering their emissions. We need to be looking from a longer-term perspective at how we're going to be at net zero by 2050. I've talked about the importance of a national infrastructure assessment so that we have a lens to the longer term, all the way out, so that we are very clear about where we need to be with clear goals along the way.
I think that's a really great point. Our plan, just to be very clear, the way it's structured is that, for example, we have a stream that's called green infrastructure. It is provinces and territories that determine what projects come to us, or community, culture and recreation. We get projects that have been submitted by municipalities or other partners to the provinces. They decide which ones end up on my desk.
I do think that we need to be looking at that very closely because, I agree: When we make investments in infrastructure, we need to be making sure that everyone is getting an opportunity to access good infrastructure. We know that we have an infrastructure deficit in indigenous communities. We know that, in racialized communities, there is often a deficit and a gap. I think we need to do more. We are looking at.... I've talked to the chief statistician to figure out how we do that better, how we can develop the tools.
As I said, I'm outcomes-based. I think that every dollar we spend, every taxpayer dollar, needs to reach three outcomes. It has to create jobs in the short term and economic growth in the long term. It needs to tackle climate change, reducing emissions and building more resilient communities, and it needs to build more inclusive communities for all. I am looking at how we do that. I am happy to work with the member—because I know the member cares about this greatly—and to get input from the member on what the best practices are. I know that in British Columbia there are some great initiatives. The City of Toronto has ways of looking at inclusivity. I think that really is the opportunity to make sure that we're getting multiple—triple—benefits from every dollar that is spent.
Minister, it's good to see you. Finally, we get to do our salutations here after some time. James certainly sends his regards as well. He asks about you from time to time within the house.
Minister, you just said something that really catches my attention, as well as that of the opposition and Canadians. It's that you're outcomes-based. However, your CEO of the Infrastructure Bank received a performance bonus for zero outcomes; that's zero projects completed. It doesn't seem to me to be very outcomes-based that someone would receive a performance bonus—your outgoing CEO—for zero projects completed under the Infrastructure Bank.
I'm not sure if there were other metrics that you used in an attempt to reward him—initiative or motivation or other types of things. Perhaps you can explain to me, the committee and Canadians why your outgoing CEO received a performance bonus for zero projects completed under the Infrastructure Bank.
I should just note, and I think this is really important, that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is an arm's-length Crown corporation, and it absolutely does need to deliver on its mandate to invest in major nation-building projects. This is something I've been absolutely focused on since I've come in.
I'm very pleased that we were able to attract Michael Sabia, the new chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, who just announced a $10-billion growth plan.
We now have a new CEO. I note that the CEO's base salary range and performance pay compensation total is 40% lower than previously. I have high expectations for the CIB and for Mr. Cory. I know they're going to deliver on their mandate to get more infrastructure built across this country, nation-building projects, projects that really would never have been built under a Conservative government that wanted to cancel infrastructure projects from coast to coast to coast.
We need to move forward. This is how we are going to grow our economy. Investments in infrastructure are the largest driver of GDP, of growth of our economy, but also great jobs, union jobs for Canadians. I talked to the unions about how important these jobs are—
You didn't require it for the Réseau express métropolitain in Montreal or the Broadway subway in Vancouver. There seems to be inconsistency. It seems to me here that we're agreeing that it is an important business practice to be consistent, yet that doesn't seem to have been the case.
I'm very glad you've brought up that the federal government is willing to do its part, because both the provincial and the municipal funding commitments are there. Therefore, I'm just asking you whether you can commit today to providing your funding, the $5.1 billion from the federal government, that is desperately needed to finish this project.
It sounds as though we're both in line here in terms of expecting performance, wanting results, commitment to better transit, and committing these funds to projects that benefit Canadians. Can you make a commitment to release the funds today, please?
That's great because I think it is really important to talk about. I said it 13 times and that's actually good because it's $13 billion that we have invested in public transit since were elected. I remind you that Conservatives ran on a platform to cut $18 billion in infrastructure spending, so maybe that was all of the public transit investments that we've made that wouldn't actually have gotten built.
Let's talk about the transit hub in Brampton, Ontario. I was just making an announcement with the mayor of Brampton. He is so excited about this transit hub and how it is going to transform Brampton and get more people around faster in more affordable and cleaner ways.
There's the transit hub in the Cowichan Valley in B.C. There are projects like electric school buses and charging infrastructure in Charlottetown, Milton, Durham region, Kawartha Lakes, Kingston, St. Thomas, Oakville, Waterloo, Stratford and Guelph. I could go on.
Since coming to office at the end of 2015, we have invested more than $13.3 billion in public transit projects across the country. That's 13 times more than the previous government that only invested a billion dollars.
I like the ambition of provinces like Ontario. I want to get more public transit built. I want to get more public transit built in Hamilton. I think that we need to be moving forward.
I've heard from Jerry Dias. He said that it's so important that we get the streetcars for Toronto because that's good Bombardier jobs in Thunder Bay. I think that's what this is about.
Why? These are the “triple benefits” I spent so much time talking about—public transit, jobs, Canadian supply chain, electric buses, streetcars and economic growth. The largest driver of economic growth is investment in infrastructure.
Climate action.... When we talk about public transit and electric buses, that makes a huge impact in reducing emissions. Of course there's inclusivity, because who is taking public transit? It's often our essential workers who we have seen in the pandemic depend on public transit. It's people who do not have access to vehicles; they cannot afford vehicles. It's young people who don't even want cars. I found that out from my kids—they never want to have a car; they just want to get around on public transit.
This is really the opportunity. This is how we're going to build a better country, a cleaner country and a country with good jobs where it is inclusive for all.
Thank you very much, Minister.
I would turn to the Yonge North subway. I represent a riding in York region, and this is an extremely important project to all the members in York region—both government and opposition of course.
You talk about the need for a business plan. I am someone who is extremely familiar with the topography, as an example, of the potential route, and that is a very hilly part of York region. I can only imagine that there's a need for a very close examination of the potential routes and the options that are available, such as underground or over ground, etc.
Could you just elaborate a little bit on the need for the level of detail that you require from the province?
Thanks very much for the question.
I should start by saying that we're already supporting the Yonge North subway extension. We've done so by providing funding for preliminary engineering in York region. I think this is a really good project.
Of course, we need to look at where the route is going to be, details about the costs and the full business case. These are a requirement because in the end, like the province of Ontario has to do, I have to go to my Treasury Board and justify every dollar, which we should. We need to be accountable. These are taxpayer dollars.
We've been really encouraging the province to give us the business case for this project and to really help our government to understand, so that we can make sure we're accountable to taxpayers while moving ahead on a project that would be great.
It's just so interesting. I'm not very used to Conservatives attacking Liberals for being prudent about taxpayer dollars.
I am someone who believes we need to be fiscally responsible, but we have to be ambitious on infrastructure. It seems that the Conservatives don't want to be fiscally responsible and we know they don't really want to invest in infrastructure, so it's kind of the opposite.
Look, we support the Yonge subway extension and we've said so extensively on the public record. It's really up to the province to get its ducks in a row and get us the information we need to do a proper funding evaluation, so we can get this project underway.
Madam Minister, in your presentation, you spoke about the Port of Montreal and the Contrecœur Terminal. When you were asked about that, you said that it's more Transport Canada's responsibility. When I asked you about the gas tax, you said that it's more Quebec's responsibility. We know very well that, in both cases, it's your responsibility. When things are positive, they are yours; when things are negative, they are not.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank is associated with one project: the high-frequency rail project in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. In government documents that were made public not so long ago, the recommendation was to drop the segment from Montreal to Quebec City.
We said earlier that Quebec is not getting its fair share of infrastructure investments. I would like to know whether there will be a concrete commitment from your government to bring the project to fruition and for the segment from Montreal to Quebec City to be part of it
In your answer, I would ask you not to tell me once more that it is not your fault.
That's a really great question.
In fact, when you look at our rural broadband plan...and I must correct myself. We didn't put in $1.5 billion; we actually put in $1.75 billion. We enhanced the fund, but we also increased coordination.
For a number of reasons, with provinces and territories, they asked, through our investing in Canada plan, that broadband be one of the opportunities under rural and northern, but not exclusively, so it's up to them to decide. Then ISED has a significant role to play. The Canada Infrastructure Bank's role is very specific—
The Canada Infrastructure Bank is independent, but our government sets the overarching priorities for the bank. They're extremely broad priorities.
When you look at their growth plan, they developed a plan that reflected those priorities. I think it's to be applauded that Michael Sabia, the new chair, works with the board and the staff at the bank to look at what areas would make a difference in the shorter term.
The bank has overarching priorities, including public transit, transmission lines and other things that it's working on, but it asked, “What can we do in the shorter term that will create jobs now that will also make a big difference in the pandemic?” Let's just talk about broadband, the importance of connecting Canadians to broadband.
They are committing now to connect, in the shorter term, 750,000 homes and businesses to broadband. I think that's an example of them looking at opportunities, which I hope you would agree are really important. I know that I hear from Canadians about how important it is to be investing in broadband.
Also, it's great to see that the first project actually was an Albertan project, the bank working with Premier Kenney to do a project that's going to make a real difference to irrigation. This is about farmers. This is about ranchers. This is about the ag tech sector. It's about Canadian exports. I certainly applaud this.
I think we have to be more ambitious. We have to invest more in infrastructure, and we need to be doing it while working hand in hand with the private sector.
I'm not entirely sure what that means, but look, the Infrastructure Bank is doing really good work. As I said, it announced a project that I think Premier Kenney was extremely pleased with. It will make a real difference when it comes to irrigation in Alberta.
When you look at the REM project in Montreal, that's an incredible project. I hear from Montrealers. They're so excited to see that it's actually being built and creating thousands of jobs.
The Infrastructure Bank's role is actually looking at where there are opportunities for investment, where they can attract the private sector on projects and how they do that. I have great faith in Michael Sabia. The new CEO of the bank, Ehren Cory, comes from Infrastructure Ontario, where he had a lot of experience leveraging the private sector and looking at innovative financing tools.
I think there's a huge opportunity, and it's great to see, as I say, interest by Conservative premiers in actually moving forward and getting more infrastructure built.
Minister, thanks for being here. It's wonderful to have you here to talk with us about the infrastructure program.
I want to ask you broadly about the the impacts of the infrastructure program that you are managing at the moment, under two headings. The first is the impact on climate change, on severe weather and on GHG reductions, the impact on our ability to reach our 2050 net-zero targets. We'll go there first.
Secondarily, if we have time, I'd like to ask you about the economic benefits in communities across the country.
Perhaps you could start with the environmental, climate and carbon impacts.
I have a great parliamentary secretary who cares greatly about climate change, who actually brought in a private member's bill, which is hard to get passed, but it passed in the House, setting up a climate lens. Climate change really is critically important, as we think of the infrastructure we build.
It's interesting because when you look at the opportunities, you see that I made an announcement about a net-zero pool, the Drayton Valley pool. The the amount of excitement about that pool is huge. It's just an example of how we can make a real difference. That investment does not seem like a big deal, but for that community, it's actually using heating from the local arena for the pool. That's just smart.
I've seen these investments across the country that are reducing emissions, which is critically important. These investments include electric buses; investments in renewable energy and in district heating, something I know you care greatly about; investments in active transportation and linking that to public transportation, such as thinking about cycling as a way that people can get to and from work, which we often haven't thought of like that, but as just being a pastime.
We are also building resilience, because unfortunately climate change is already having a huge impact on communities. So, as I say, the investment we made in Brampton under our disaster mitigation and adaptation fund is really critically important.
I think there are many other opportunities. As we look to move forward, what I would like to see are more opportunities directly with cities and municipalities, big and small, across the country. We have seen leadership from municipalities on climate change in every province and territory across the country. It is estimated that 40% of emissions are within the control of municipalities, so we certainly need to be enabling them to make the decisions that are going to really help reduce emissions and ensure that there is cleaner air and cleaner water in their communities, and also a better quality of life for people.
When you look at the impacts of having better public transit or of having district heating or more cycling paths or more access to nature—we haven't talked a lot about natural infrastructure—you see that makes a real, practical difference in people's lives, while creating good union jobs. I have to emphasize this. I think there is just so much opportunity, as we are trying to build Canada up, and also building our way out of this pandemic, in making sure that we're making investments that are creating good union jobs right now.
I hear from unions across the country. I have to give a shout-out to all the constructions workers who have been working hard throughout this pandemic to keep that sector open and get things built in a safe way.
You began to make the segue there to the economy. You and I speak often about the fact that this infrastructure program is a chance, given its magnitude, not just to move the dial on the environment but also to move the dial on the economy and employment, and particularly now with COVID, even more so.
Can you go down that path a little bit and talk a bit about the economic impact as it relates to our recovery, and even beyond that, just in general about creating prosperity in our communities across the country?
I think that's really important.
We need to be making sure right now that we're creating good jobs, but also growing our economy.
Let's just take some statistics. I am someone who really cares about stats. In 2019 alone, if you look at the construction industry, you see it accounted for approximately 7% of Canada's GDP and employed about 1.7 million Canadians.
We know that infrastructure investments are a significant part of our economy and that every public investment of 1% of GDP in infrastructure boosts growth by 2.7%.
If you look at investments in traditional infrastructure, you see that an investment of $1 million generates between two and eight jobs, so that's water treatment facilities, bridges, storm sewers. When you go to clean infrastructure like public transit, more energy-efficient buildings, you find the payoff is even bigger, between five and 14 jobs for every million dollars spent.
I could talk about all the different projects that are creating jobs. The mayor of Brampton talked about the tens of thousands of jobs that will be created by the investment we made in flood mitigation in Brampton alone. If I think about all of these projects across the country creating good local jobs, I think it's a real opportunity.
We know that we need jobs. We're in the largest recession since the Great Depression and we have to make sure that we're creating good jobs for Canadians and building the cleaner, more inclusive future we want.
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the officials. I appreciate your time today.
I just want to point out a couple of things from the minister's comments.
I believe I heard her say that one of the reasons the Yonge extension couldn't be approved right now is that they don't know where the line is going to go. I just wanted to let you know that I found the line. It took about two seconds with a Google search for me to find the proposed route, and I'm happy to send that to the minister. Maybe that will speed up the approval process.
I want to clarify another one of the minister's responses to my colleague, Mr. Kram.
Premier Moe did send a letter just before the throne speech, in which he indicated that since March 1, only three projects had been approved. The official gave a different number. I'm just wondering if you could bring some clarity to that. Were there a whole bunch of new approvals done in the last few weeks?
Thank you for the question, Chair.
When we look at our programming right now, under the integrated bilateral agreements, where I would say the social type of infrastructure, which we have traditionally funded, is under the community, culture and recreation stream. It is an overall allocation, a national allocation of $1.3 billion. At this point, we have 155 projects that have been approved, for almost $400 million across the country.
Now we have just recently, because of the pandemic, created something called the COVID stream. I know that the minister briefly mentioned that, based in the $33 billion, provinces and territories can transfer up to 10% of their allocation. A couple of the eligible categories, such as retrofits and upgrades, as well as pandemic resiliency, do go into a broader definition of social infrastructure. Any buildings that are owned by provinces, territories or municipalities, such as hospitals, schools or long-term care facilities, would be eligible under that stream. Normally that's more under provincial or territorial jurisdiction, so we don't fund those types of infrastructures, but we do and we have for many years funded community, culture and recreation infrastructure.
The other streams are public transit, wastewater and renewable energy types of programming. As well, as in our rural and northern stream, we do have 18 different categories, but not in normal social infrastructure as you might be talking about right now. I hope that clarifies.
Thank you, Chair, for the question.
For that particular question, it depends on the type of project. If we are doing a project that requires a Treasury Board submission—at this point, anything under $100 million does not require a Treasury Board submission and anything over $100 million requires us to go to Treasury Board—we need a full business case. So we need to understand the schedule, costing, risk, environmental assessment, the duty to consult, understanding the outcomes of what that particular project is going to attain and how it actually aligns to the terms and conditions of the particular program, as well as the ask that it has within the allocation. As we have integrated bilateral agreements right now with the provinces and territories—and all of those amounts are public—the province has to determine how much of that allocation it wants to use for that particular project.
When we're doing a Treasury Board submission, it is a full, quite substantive business case, similar to what would be undertaken within a province or a territory. If there is a project that is under $100 million and it requires the minister's authority, then for each particular program there is a set amount of data that's required to determine eligibility and alignment with the terms and conditions.
With our integrated bilateral agreements, we've created a portal. It's very clear on the data sets that are required where a Treasury Board submission is not required.
Okay, thanks very much for that answer.
As you know, Deputy Minister, my background is as a city planner for several decades. I understand the complexities of large-scale infrastructure projects, and the detailed planning and business cases that are required to proceed so that they're not throwing money away. Rather, it's money being invested wisely.
You mentioned the IBAs. Let's just go there for a moment, if we could. The ICP has these complex and negotiated bilateral agreements that respect the authority and jurisdiction of the provinces. They also respect their knowledge about knowing what their priorities are on the ground in those respective provinces.
What is the role? Can you just tell us about the role of the provinces as we release money to these infrastructure projects across the country?
Thank you, Deputy Minister.
Of course, the journey of a project from the municipal proponent through the provincial government—through its prioritization process—up to the due diligence required by Infrastructure is a necessarily detailed one because, of course, we're in the business of accountability and getting good projects built. Thanks for that description.
In the time we have left, I'd like to turn to transit and active transportation. I wonder if you could characterize the experience of the department of infrastructure's increased demand and, I guess, surface area with the world of active transportation, and how that landscape is changing in terms of demand in the projects that we're seeing.
When we're looking at attainment of our climate lens and our climate objectives, there are different tools that we're using. You mentioned the climate lens, which has been one of the tools we recently created as a tool to understand the opportunity and build that into the project analysis process. Through that, it has kind of two volets
. It has the GHG portion of it as well as the resilience portion of it. It has been used right now to almost 90% of our approved project values, so that is helpful.
We do have a national target on our infrastructure programming overall, which is 10 megatonnes. At this point in time, based on our attainment of the climate lens, we're just over two megatonnes. We have still two-thirds of our funding to be expended against projects.
There are other tools, though, that we have in place to help us attain our targets. We're working with the National Research Council on new building codes. We're working with the Standards Council on standards. We're also working with the FCM on supporting climate plans and providing capacity within the municipalities to have more awareness and expertise as they think about asset management. I don't think it's just one tool. I think all of them have to actually come together. As well, as we look to the future, what more needs to be done?
We do have our rural and northern stream, which is $2 billion across the country. Then we have investments that are being made in that rural stream right now. The types of investments are quite broad. So far, we're about halfway through that particular stream, in the approved projects—about $1 billion dollars worth for just over 400 projects.
That is a really important component, because it's quite a flexible stream where rural communities can determine what their priorities are and what their needs are for their infrastructure investments. That doesn't preclude investments in other streams that actually support rural communities, and that is a really important component of how we look at infrastructure going forward. Overall, recently within our programming, we've about $10 billion that has been invested in communities of under 30,000 in population. Even in regard to our disaster mitigation program that the minister had mentioned, almost half of it has gone to rural communities.
As we look at investments, there are important ones being made in rural Canada. However, as I mentioned before when Mr. Fillmore was asking about the process, the actual projects and prioritization are made by provinces and territories to us and we look at eligibility.
We have another aspect of this, although it's not rural specifically; that is, the community employment benefits, where we look at nine different population groups to see how some of our programs can benefit them.
Ms. Gillis, you know broadband is a big issue for me in my riding. With the universal broadband fund, the Canada Infrastructure Bank seems to be more about loans than actually about grants available.
When municipalities or organizations apply, are they going to be able to receive grants, or are these loans? As well, can they partner with other organizations such as indigenous community groups to get multiple different areas of grants available to them from different programs, or do they have to apply just from one?
The COVID stream was created to be able to adjust our programming to be relevant to living in the times we are right now with COVID. Provinces and territories have the option, but do not have to avail themselves of this opportunity, to transfer up to 10% of their original allocation into this particular stream. Just over $3 billion could be available across the country for this.
Because of the hard times we're living in right now, the government has decided to pay 80 cents on the dollar. So we'll pay 80% of the projects. For indigenous communities and indigenous recipients, we'll pay 100% of the projects.
It is time limited. It's in place until the end of 2021. It's for projects to a maximum eligible project cost of $10 million, a lower value so they can be done in a shorter time frame. The categories for them are retrofits, rehabilitation of provincial, territorial and municipal buildings, including as I mentioned before, opening up to types of infrastructure like education, long-term care facilities, hospitals that are needed right now.
Another category is pandemic resilience, so allowing for infrastructure investments and capital investment to allow for social distancing and safe use of buildings.
With regard to active transportation, we know that investing in active transportation is really important right now, as well as mitigation and adaptation. That is also quite important, as we're seeing the severity of weather.
Those are the types of categories that are in place for this particular stream.
At this point in time, we have a number of provinces and territories that have availed themselves of it, but not all. We have Alberta, which has availed themselves of it, and Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Newfoundland, Nunavut and Ontario. They are in the process of transferring funds over into this stream and will be submitting projects.
It is actually happening right now. Provinces are deciding whether they would like a take-up of this and then how much they would like to transfer in.
Thank you for your question.
This is a major $2 billion program. We've announced 59 projects totalling about $1.7 billion, and two-thirds of those projects are flood-related. These are major events that affect communities. This type of program is designed to make investments up front to reduce the risk of future disasters resulting from the magnitude of climate change. It's an important program.
In addition, in the COVID-19 resilience stream, which I just mentioned, there is mention of the types of projects that are eligible. They must not exceed $10 million in value. And in our green component, these types of projects are also eligible. So there are different ways to support these types of projects to reduce the risk to Canadians.
We know very well that infrastructure is the most powerful engine for growing the economy and creating jobs.
This government, I presume, has set a record for infrastructure investment across the country. This government has made unprecedented investments in our communities and across the country, creating good jobs for Canadians.
Could you talk about the number of projects that have been approved under the investing in Canada infrastructure program, or ICIP, and the types of infrastructure that have been built, particularly as a result of that program?
My question is for Ms. Gillis.
I know your government—the federal government certainly—often says that the environment is important to them. There are investment programs for charging stations, for instance, that come out of Infrastructure Canada, if I'm not mistaken.
Would it be possible to obtain data on the total envelope, its distribution and the number of applications by province, for example? You'll find that comes up a lot, but I'm particularly interested in the province of Quebec. I don't know if you have this data and if you're able to provide it to us.
Thank you, Ms. Gillis, and thank you, Mr. Bachrach.
Thank you to the entire team at the department. Great work, people.
Ms. Gillis, you shouldered most of that, so thank you for your time. I'm sure you got some input from your team there as well.
Members, thank you for a great session this afternoon. I think for the most part we recognize the investments that are being made, and with that the benefits to communities, people, organizations and all those who are beneficiaries of a lot of the investments that are being made. Thank you.
Members of the committee, I'm now going to move to your will to look at one motion to receive the consent of the committee to apply one recorded division to the mains and the supplementary estimates. If I can have that....
Do I have a consensus to actually apply one recorded division versus going through every one individually? Do I have consensus on that?
Great. Wonderful. Thank you.
I will ask the clerk to now read off the names to vote, on consent of the committee, which I've already received, to apply the one recorded division, which the clerk is now going to call for, to the mains and the supplementary estimates.
Mr. Clerk, the floor is now yours.
The Clerk of the Committee (Mr. Michael MacPherson): The question is on the combination of the mains and the supplementary estimates.
CANADIAN AIR TRANSPORT SECURITY AUTHORITY
Vote 1—Payments to the Authority for operating and capital expenditures..........$562,700,000
(Vote 1 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
CANADIAN TRANSPORTATION AGENCY
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$28,662,545
(Vote 1 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$726,021,429
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$150,604,973
Vote 10—Grants and contributions—Efficient Transportation System..........$617,297,513
Vote 15—Grants and contributions—Green and Innovative Transportation System..........$133,823,550
Vote 20—Grants and contributions—Safe and Secure Transportation System..........$40,197,681
(Votes 1, 5, 10, 15 and 20 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
Vote 1—Payments to the corporation..........$55,675,667
(Vote 1 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
OFFICE OF INFRASTRUCTURE OF CANADA
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$140,524,931
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$32,589,953
Vote 10—Grants and contributions..........$5,509,279,924
(Votes 1, 5 and 10 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
THE JACQUES-CARTIER AND CHAMPLAIN BRIDGES INC.
Vote 1—Payments to the corporation..........$327,620,136
(Vote 1 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
Vote 1—Payments to the Corporation..........$546,909,001
(Vote 1 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
WINDSOR-DETROIT BRIDGE AUTHORITY
Vote 1—Payments to the Authority..........$778,634,323
(Vote 1 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
CANADIAN AIR TRANSPORT SECURITY AUTHORITY
Vote 1b—Payments to the Authority for operating and capital expenditures..........$45,628,788
(Vote 1b agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
CANADIAN TRANSPORTATION AGENCY
Vote 1b—Program expenditures..........$9,585,524
(Vote 1b agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
Vote 1b—Operating expenditures..........$28,205,543
Vote 5b—Capital expenditures..........$180,467,398
Vote 10b—Grants and contributions—Efficient Transportation System..........$228,768,849
Vote 15b—Grants and contributions—Green and Innovative Transportation System..........$54,934,538
Vote 20b—Grants and contributions—Safe and Secure Transportation System..........$24,197,532
(Votes 1b, 5b, 10b, 15b and 20b agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
Vote 1b—Payments to the corporation..........$2,000,568
(Vote 1b agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
OFFICE OF INFRASTRUCTURE OF CANADA
Vote 1b—Operating expenditures..........$48,283,519
(Vote 1b agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
THE FEDERAL BRIDGE CORPORATION LIMITED
Vote 1b—Payments to the Corporation..........$832,083
(Vote 1b agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
Vote 1b—Payments to the Corporation..........$4,521,667
(Vote 1b agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)