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View Andy Fillmore Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Andy Fillmore Profile
2020-01-28 10:38 [p.544]
Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak today about the Government of Canada's investments in Canadian communities and in our country's infrastructure.
I have spoken in the House before about my career before politics as a city planner and I have shared the story of how that experience led me to enter public life. As an urban planner, I became all too familiar with the sorry state of our nation's infrastructure and the serious threat that it posed to the sustainability, security, prosperity and even the livability of our communities. I was also keenly aware of the opportunity before us, the potential of infrastructure to set our cities and towns up for success, if only we could find the confidence to invest in our cities, our towns and our own future.
I answered the call that I heard to enter federal politics because I wanted to be part of a team that would make historic investments in infrastructure to help literally reshape communities for the better.
As city and town planners, we have a vision for Canada where our communities empower citizens, where our communities lead Canada toward its best days. As planners, we push for a connected Canada with world-class local and regional public transit systems that get us not just to work on time but across the province dependably; an inclusive Canada with secure and affordable housing options for middle- and low-income Canadians, with quick and direct access to the places where we live, work and play, the supermarket, the doctor's office, the school, the neighbourhood day care and the ice rink. We push for a resilient Canada that is well prepared for the challenges that come with a changing climate and rising sea levels, cities and towns that are cleaner and less reliant on sources of energy that pollute our skies and harm our health, communities that are less resource intensive and do more with less; and a vibrant Canada strengthened by cities and towns that feel like home with community centres, libraries, YMCAs, museums, theatres and parks.
Here is the good news. The Canada we seek is closer now than it has ever been. We are on the threshold of sweeping transformation and the renewal of the Canadian community experience.
In 2015, our government was elected on a mandate to make those historic investments in infrastructure. Right out of the gate, we got to work. In close consultation with indigenous partners; provincial, territorial and municipal leaders; and stakeholder groups like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, we designed the investing in Canada plan, a visionary, long-term plan that is investing billions in infrastructure projects in every corner of this great land, a plan the magnitude of which has not been seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal of more than 80 years ago.
Our government believes in the importance of investing in infrastructure, and the plan is tangible proof of what the government promised Canadians, specifically, to create good jobs, grow the economy and invest in clean air and water, modern and reliable public transit, strong infrastructure and sustainable communities.
Our progress has been tremendous. Since the plan was launched, over 52,000 projects have been announced government-wide, with federal contributions of nearly $60 billion. Almost all of these projects are either started or completed.
As we said they would, these investments are translating into greater economic growth. Since 2015, Canadians have created one million new jobs, and 77,000 of these are strong, middle-class jobs in the infrastructure sector. Investments delivered by Infrastructure Canada are a core contributor to this outcome.
Through our new and legacy infrastructure funding programs, our work on building major bridges, our support for partnerships through the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the smart cities challenge, we are directly growing the economy and creating communities that work.
In 2016, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimated that fully one-third of our infrastructure was only in fair, poor or very poor condition. That is why in our very first budget, budget 2016, we committed $14.4 billion for projects that could be delivered quickly, projects that would see new public transit, green and social infrastructure built, and existing assets rehabilitated, repaired and modernized. It also provided funding for post-secondary education and broadband access for remote communities, because these are essential to helping all Canadians prepare for the future.
Nearly all of these projects are under way or completed, meaning communities across the country have already benefited from the projects delivered during that phase.
For example, in Plessisville, Quebec, we invested nearly $24 million in the renewal of water pipes and the replacement of aeration pipes throughout the municipality so that families can have peace of mind and continue to have access to clean drinking water.
In Bonnyville, Alberta, we invested over $32 million to extend the regional water supply system to bring more safe, clean water to homes.
At home in Halifax, we invested $24 million to purchase two new ferries and 39 new buses, cutting congestion on our city streets and improving the daily commute for many residents. In Toronto, Ontario, we invested close to $310 million to purchase new, clean diesel and hybrid buses to help reduce greenhouse emissions, traffic gridlock and travel time in one of Canada's busiest cities. In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, we invested $12 million to help renew and upgrade its existing fleet of buses to help more people get to and from work and to essential services more quickly.
Those were all projects Canadians told us they needed in order to prosper.
Through budget 2017, we committed an additional $81.2 billion in funding for large-scale projects that would transform the landscape of Canadian communities in five key priorities: public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation infrastructure, and funding for rural and northern communities infrastructure. Public transit projects, like Vancouver's Broadway Subway, will create new links between communities and change the way that residents get around their cities.
One year later in our second budget, budget 2017, we introduced two new initiatives: the smart cities challenge and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The smart cities challenge is a pan-Canadian competition designed to spark innovation and empower communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technologies. I can tell members that those of us in the city planning community were overjoyed with the announcement of the smart cities challenge. Finally, there was opportunity for citizens to be part of building the innovative, sustainable, modern cities that truly belong in the 21st century and a chance to get people excited about what was possible in our communities if we put our best minds together to develop forward-thinking policies.
The benefits for the winners of the first challenge are clear. Bridgewater, a challenge-winning community in Nova Scotia, is working to help lift residents out of energy poverty. Communities in Nunavut are benefiting from measures to reduce the risk of suicide. Guelph and Wellington County in Ontario are implementing their first technology-enabled circular food economy. Montreal, Quebec is innovating to enhance mobility and access to food for its residents.
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