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Results: 1 - 15 of 275
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
A few weeks ago I submitted an Order Paper question. For those who are watching this committee, members of Parliament have the ability not only to ask questions verbally in the House of Commons, but to submit written questions that the government is supposed to answer. These are usually a bit more specific.
I asked a very specific Order Paper question about the number of infrastructure projects across all government departments, specifically asking about those that are behind schedule and what the delays in those projects have cost Canadian taxpayers. I was pretty alarmed with what came back from Parks Canada. Some of the numbers are very large and, quite frankly, staggering. I'm trying to make sure I'm not missing something, so I'm wondering if I can ask the officials or the minister to explain some of these cost overruns.
For example, for the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site, the original total estimated cost of the project was $8.3 million. There's a delay of one year. No specific reason for the delay was given. The revised estimated total cost is now $18 million, a $10-million increase.
For the Province House National Historic Site, the original total estimated cost of the project was $20 million. It was supposed to be completed in 2019. There's now a five-year delay on this project. No specific reason was given for the delay. The new cost is $91 million. That's a little over $70 million in additional costs due to the delay.
Maybe we'll start with those two. What kind of explanation can be offered to this committee, and to Canadian taxpayers, as to the reason for these delays, and why it's adding so much money to the cost of these projects?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
I recognize that on a project-by-project basis, it might be helpful for the committee to have that longer explanation.
You said something I'm kind of wondering about. I can understand that on normal infrastructure projects there are sometimes many moving pieces. You have municipalities, towns, RMs and large cities. You have provincial layers of government, and the federal government has one-third of the control or ability to manage the projects.
In fact, usually, for most infrastructure programs, the federal government acts as the person who reimburses other levels of government. For delays in projects, you can usually look to municipal governments or provincial governments or whatnot. However, with Parks Canada, we're talking about, in many cases—I'm reading through them—historic sites, like the Rideau Canal, the Trent-Severn Waterway and Jasper National Park. These are facilities that are owned and operated 100% by Parks Canada. There aren't other levels of government that are participating in this.
Again, understanding you might have to come back to the committee with a more specific example, if we go to Jasper National Park, the complete reconstruction program of Whistlers Campground—you're talking about upgrading a campground—was originally estimated to cost $6.7 million. It's jumped up to $62 million. That's a huge jump.
There are a few of these examples, and so far, a quick math shows 46 pages' worth of projects that are behind schedule and now over budget.... You said most of them are on time. Fine, but we're in the business of trying to give the very best results to taxpayers. We're halfway through the list, and I believe the number we've calculated is $400 million in project overruns.
Can you explain how Parks Canada can—
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I appreciate the Auditor General's work. This is my first time on this committee, but we've been studying the various infrastructure programs at the transport committee, so I appreciate my colleagues' allowing me to sub in today.
There's a lot to unpack, with such a large department administering a large amount of money, as you point out, over many different funding envelopes. I suppose that's one of the reasons we flagged the challenge of getting accurate information back on the department's spending, based on the fact that it is spread out over so many projects.
I have a couple of questions for the Auditor General, just to get some clarity on them.
In your report, you indicated that there was quite a significant delay in terms of the program spending, and that not all the money that was allocated was being spent every year. We just heard from the deputy minister—I believe she said this but she can clarify if I've misquoted her—that they have spent 43% of the funds 40% of the way through the plan.
Is there a contradiction there? Is the plan behind? Have they taken that lapsed money and put it onto later years? Are we currently behind, or am I misreading something?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thanks very much for that clarification. We are hyperaware of the difference between funding commitments and actual results. We've been studying the Canadian infrastructure bank at the transport committee. That is perhaps the most famous example of money allocated without results to show for it: $35 billion allocated and so far not a single project completed, so thank you very much for clarifying that.
Can you speak to the dynamic of the legacy projects and the lack of reporting on those? In your report and your news release, you flagged this, or someone flagged this, because this issue was raised as early as 2017 by one of the plan's oversight committees. Why is it important that the previous government's previous legacy programs be included in terms of the reporting? If they are going to claim the money as money they're spending and allocating, why is it important that the reporting follow it?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Were there shortfalls in reporting only specific to the legacy projects or, within the newly created programs by the current government, were there also some reporting shortfalls in those envelopes, as well?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much.
It's so important, because when a government says to Canadians that this is how it is going to address economic decline and kick-start the economy, especially moving out of the impacts of the pandemic, in order to be able to trust the government, we have to be able to see if the money is actually doing what it is intended to do.
I'll go back to your point about committing money. Yes, it's easy to commit money. It's more challenging to spend money, but it's even more challenging to spend money properly. That's why these reporting mechanisms are so important.
If I have time left, Madam Chair, maybe I could ask the deputy minister....
Again, I've tried to take notes as you've spoken, so if I misquote you, please clarify. I believe you said that some of the programs don't require reporting by design. When we're talking about tracking the effectiveness of taxpayers' money, can you explain which types of programs you would specifically design not to have some kind of a reporting or tracking mechanism?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
I can come back to that in my follow-up round, Madam Chair, if you'd prefer because of time.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I have a few questions for, I believe, Ms. Bowers from CMHC.
What would you say is the largest demographic in terms of income of Canadians who use the mortgage insurance that CMHC provides?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
In terms of income, would you say that it skews towards the lower and middle brackets than wealthier Canadians, first-time homebuyers who can afford to put down more than 20% and therefore don't require the products you offer?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
First-time homebuyers who can't afford to put more than 20% down on the mortgage are the people who pay CMHC premiums.
Now, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, you fund housing programs and various social benefit programs within your own agency. Is that correct? Do you manage and fund your own programs?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
This year, on March 31, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, announced a special dividend payment of $3.5 billion to the Government of Canada; that is, a transfer from CMHC directly to the Government of Canada. This means the premiums of those first-time homebuyers, who are low- and middle-income Canadians who can't afford to put more than 20% down on their mortgage, went to pay a $3.5-billion dividend to the government. Is that correct?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
It says here on CMHC's website that that quarterly dividend is $250 million, so that's exactly a billion dollars a year if it's $250 million a quarter. That's off the backs of premium payers. That special dividend that goes into the government's coffers is directly on the backs of low- and middle-income Canadians and, as you just mentioned, first-time homebuyers. The federal government has scooped up the profits made on the backs of hard-working first-time homebuyers. Is that correct?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to echo what the chair said about the very interesting presentations by our witnesses today. We heard a lot of different aspects of Canada's infrastructure needs addressed by a very interesting group of witnesses.
I particularly liked the mention of the idea of these trade corridors. This was something that of course the previous Conservative government really championed with the Asia-Pacific corridor. Many communities throughout Canada were able to upgrade everything from roads to rail yards to port facilities in order to help deal with some of the logistics challenges that prevented Canadian companies from accessing Asian markets. That was a very successful corridor program. It's nice when you see those types of legacy projects continue and benefit diverse communities, from Newfoundland all the way to British Columbia.
I want to touch on that a little bit with the representatives from the port authorities in Corner Brook and Hamilton-Oshawa. Obviously, hard assets are a huge benefit to being able to expand our trading opportunities and export more. I think I heard the gentleman from Corner Brook talk about the ability to buy a crane. It's easy to understand how that benefits and enables the ability to expand operations. Sometimes, though, government rules and regulations get in the way of some of the expansion of some of the operations.
I want to ask a question specifically about cabotage and your view of the current rules relating to cabotage here in Canada and the ability for ships bringing goods to Canada to stop at multiple points of entry. We have two different ports here, two different parts of the country, and I'd love to hear your different perspectives on the way that rule affects your ability to grow and expand.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
I'll try to very briefly get to our two mayors.
Like you, we get very frustrated when we hear stories of the billions of dollars that go lapsing in government programs or the fact that the Canadian Infrastructure Bank hasn't yet been able to complete a single project and it's supposed to be a signature government program. We've heard your recommendations, but I just want to give you one more opportunity to talk about what you're looking for in terms of flexibility for local areas.
What we've heard in previous meetings is that sometimes, when the criteria get set here in Ottawa, there are a lot of great projects that are getting filtered out because they don't quite fit in to what the government in Ottawa has set. What would you like to see in terms of flexibility to empower local decision-making?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I really appreciate the testimony that we've heard. I certainly appreciate the different perspectives. I always find it interesting when proponents come in and give governments ideas on how they can do a better job of things. It's not necessarily always about just spending more money. The expenditure of money is not necessarily the best metric to determine success. It's the efficiency of that program. When you spend a lot of money but get poor results, we've got something wrong.
I really enjoyed the feedback on the impact of cabotage rules and the consequence on our shipping industry and our logistics industry. I'm hopeful that we can continue on with this line of questioning.
Mr. Chair, we have had a motion before the committee for the last few meetings. Many members have had the opportunity to express themselves. Hopefully, we can quickly take care of some housekeeping and then move back to give our witnesses more opportunity to discuss this very important topic.
Mr. Chair, I'd like to move that we resume debate on the motion and the amendment we were dealing with at the last committee meeting.
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