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Results: 1 - 15 of 113
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm going to start off by calling the meeting to order.
I welcome you to meeting number seven of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities.
Members of the committee are meeting today because a meeting was requested by four members of the committee, pursuant to Standing Order 106(4), to discuss their request to undertake a study of ministers' spending priorities.
Today's meeting is taking place in person, and the proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. So that you are aware, I will tell you that the webcast will show the person speaking rather than the entire committee.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
Occupational health and safety have requested that we limit our movement in the room throughout the meeting. Individuals should always respect social distancing rules and remain two metres away from one another. Should you need to move around the room, please follow the arrows on the floor.
You will note that, to minimize health risks, limited personnel have been permitted to attend today's meeting. Staff have received a phone number where they can listen in to the proceedings in real time.
You will note, as well, that no paper documents have been distributed. All documents have been distributed electronically to all members. Should you require a copy of a document, please advise the clerk of the committee immediately by emailing the committee at
With that, I'll go to Mr. Doherty.
View Todd Doherty Profile
Mr. Chair, I'd like to move a motion immediately that the committee immediately undertake a study on the spending priorities of Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada, and that the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Infrastructure each appear for one hour, separately, in the context of this study today.
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Doherty.
Are there any questions or comments on that motion?
(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Thank you.
We have Minister Garneau with us.
Welcome, Minister. You have five minutes.
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.
The health and well-being of Canadians have been and will continue to be the top priority of our government, but this pandemic has affected more than our personal health. It's having a profound effect on our economy.
Our government's historic plan, Investing in Canada, is to build a more prosperous, resilient and sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.
Over the last three months, we've assessed and approved hundreds of projects. We've talked with every province and territory about their changing infrastructure needs and priorities. We've put in a new chair at the Canada Infrastructure Bank, Michael Sabia, a leading businessman from Quebec who headed the Caisse de dépôt. Just this month, we announced an MOU with the Government of Alberta on an exciting proposal for a Calgary-Banff rail line. We're funding electric buses, renewable energy and water projects, as well as better broadband that will help create good jobs and help communities get back on their feet.
Our Government understands the challenging situation that cities and towns are in. I have spoken with provinces, territories, mayors, and indigenous leaders, and I’ve heard about the financial pressures this pandemic has imposed. That is why we are looking at ways to help them safely restart their economies—without losing sight of our long-term goals: to create jobs, and build a stronger, cleaner and healthier and more connected country.
Our investing in Canada plan is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in five key priorities: public transit, green, social, trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities infrastructure. We are making great progress.
Together, the 20 federal departments and agencies that deliver funding through the plan have already committed over $68 billion, investing in projects across the country and making a huge difference in the lives of Canadians. Most of these projects are either under way or completed—projects like the ones I was happy to announce this morning in Waterloo. There are investments in public transit and active transportation, from improvements to bus shelters and pedestrian crossings, to new and expanded walking and cycling routes. These will help create jobs, get more people moving and make our cities and towns better places to live. It was great to be able to make this announcement with the provincial government as well as with the municipality.
We are also proposing to introduce a new COVID-19 funding stream that would allow provinces and territories to redirect over $3 billion of existing federal funding to projects that can start quickly.
Communities must have the resources they need to get projects going during this pandemic. As announced on June 1, we pushed out all of this year's funding to municipalities through the federal gas tax fund, and we provided it in one single payment last week. It's a first step to help ease the immediate cash crunch.
We believe that better is possible when it comes to maximizing the value of infrastructure investments. That's why my mandate letter includes instructions from the Prime Minister to look at best practices globally when it comes to assessing and funding infrastructure needs. I firmly believe that a national infrastructure assessment, which they have established in the U.K., would benefit our country and our long-term infrastructure planning.
I also believe that there may be room to explore outcomes in a broader sense, so we consider infrastructure projects as part of overall plans to achieve outcomes for Canadians. The idea is to better connect national infrastructure priorities with long-term provincial and municipal strategies, while also improving accountability for all orders of government, for example from provinces and municipalities for gas-tax funding.
COVID has also shown that we need to ensure we are building resilient and inclusive communities. This includes affordable, high-speed broadband across the country, including for people living in rural communities and for first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples; housing for all; and more access to open spaces and nature.
Finally, I can assure you that I'm focused on getting value for taxpayers. We need to ensure that every dollar does double and triple duty, with outcomes that benefit our climate, marginalized populations and disadvantaged communities while creating jobs and growing our economy.
What we build and where we build matters. That is why we're focused not simply on projects being shovel-ready but also on ensuring they are shovel-worthy.
We're contributing to a safe restart for our economy, helping communities get back on their feet, supporting them to get more infrastructure built—such as high-speed broadband, public transit, affordable housing and clean water—creating jobs and building a stronger, cleaner, healthy and more connected country. When Canada builds, Canada grows.
I look forward to answering your questions.
Thank you.
View Luc Berthold Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, Madam Minister.
Thank you for being with us. It would have been nice to see you in person, as you live very close to Parliament. We would have liked to be able to talk to you, but we will do that when we get back to the House.
Madam Minister, can you tell us how many projects have been announced and funded under the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, I'd like to be there too, but we have to respect the measures in place to protect us.
We have already presented our plan to the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. This plan includes more than 33,000 detailed projects. The total also includes some 10,000 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, or CMHC, housing-related projects, and about 12,000 municipal projects funded by the federal Gas Tax Fund.
View Luc Berthold Profile
Madam Minister, for three years the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that only half of the money promised under the Liberal plan has actually been invested.
In 2018, he was told the Liberals had no plan. In 2019, the Parliamentary Budget Officer asked for the list of 53,000 projects and was told that there was no such list. It has only been a few days since the Parliamentary Budget Officer received a supplementary list of projects, including the famous projects related to the federal Gas Tax Fund. He was told that Infrastructure Canada did not have the project information from CMHC.
You yourself said on May 12 that the Liberal plan wasn't working.
You said that it is “an attempt to be smarter and more efficient”.
Recognizing the failure of the previous plan, how can you have voted against additional funding for the Auditor General, so that we could find out exactly where the money went?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
The only failure was the infrastructure project under the previous government, the Conservative Party. That is surprising, because we are transparent, whereas the former government was not.
View Luc Berthold Profile
That's not true.
I'm going to talk about another issue that shows the lack of transparency of the Liberal government.
In January 2019, Minister Carolyn Bennett signed an agreement with the Huron-Wendat Nation and Grand Chief Konrad Sioui, obliging the federal government to consult with the nation for any project on a territory about the size of half of Quebec. This agreement was signed in secret and was not revealed until December 2019, when municipalities received a letter from Grand Chief Konrad Sioui advising them of this obligation. The municipalities were never notified by the federal government or advised on this new approach. Dozens of projects under the Fonds pour l'infrastructure municipale d'eau, or FIMEAU, the municipal water infrastructure fund program, are currently stuck on the minister's desk because no consultation has taken place. Work was expected to begin soon.
Madam Minister, how many projects are stuck on your desk because of this unacceptable situation?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
We take our obligations to indigenous peoples seriously. It's too bad the former government didn't do the same.
As I said in my introduction, we've implemented hundreds of projects.
View Luc Berthold Profile
How many projects are currently stalled, Madam Minister? The municipalities did not know that they had to consult the Huron-Wendat Nation. The government did not advise them and did not show them how to do it.
How many projects can't be executed? I will give the example of the City of Lac-Mégantic, which is ready to award the contract. They have put out a call for tenders, but unfortunately they were told that nothing could be done.
How many projects are stalled because of this government's improvisation? We agree that there should be consultations, but the government should at least have notified the municipalities.
Why didn't you do that?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm going to talk about our infrastructure plan.
We work very closely with municipalities, provinces and territories. That's very important.
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