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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-28 16:54
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Thank you very much.
Mr. Toderian, if the objective of the new building Canada plan and projects supported under the plan is to promote economic growth, job creation, and productivity, would you support that?
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-28 16:54
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That's exactly what the objective of projects supported under the new building Canada plan is.
If public transit were an eligible category under every component of the new building Canada plan, would you support that?
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-28 16:58
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Mr. Toderian, under the new building Canada plan, it's the municipalities who identify their infrastructure projects. It's a bottom-up approach, not a top-down approach. Do you agree with that approach? Is it the municipalities, and in turn the provinces, who should be identifying their local infrastructure priorities?
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Kealy Dedman
View Kealy Dedman Profile
Kealy Dedman
2015-05-12 15:33
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Committee members, fellow witnesses, and ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to be with you this afternoon to represent the Canadian Public Works Association. Thank you for inviting us to participate in your examination of federal government investments in federal, provincial, and municipal infrastructure over the past 20 years.
Members of the CPWA are often unseen and unheard, but we are ever present in the lives of most Canadians. When you turn on your kitchen tap and clean water comes out, that's us. When you approach an intersection with traffic signals, that's us. When the snow is plowed in front of your home or business, it's the public works department of your community at work.
Canadians do not generally know CPWA members are also an essential part of the first responders teams when emergencies and natural disasters such as major floods hit cities and towns across the country. We clear public roadways of snow, ice, and other obstacles for police, ambulances, and fire trucks to respond to emergency situations. We ensure water comes out of the hydrants when firefighters are on the scene to fight a fire.
We have a great interest in all things related to the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure across Canada. Our focus is on what we believe to be an exciting future for public infrastructure in our country.
The new building Canada plan announced in budget 2013 and the new public transit fund announced a few weeks ago in budget 2015 represent an excellent opportunity to build, rebuild, and refurbish much needed public infrastructure across the country. We believe that with this opportunity comes an obligation to ensure Canada’s new infrastructure investments are built to endure and are managed effectively.
As we look to the future, our focus is on two policy issues: asset management and sustainable infrastructure.
We think the single most important issue to consider and plan for when significant investments are being made in public infrastructure is proper asset management. Extending the useful life of major infrastructure assets by insisting upon proper asset management practices respects the prudent expenditure of public funds. It also keeps community infrastructure safer for longer.
A holistic approach to managing municipal infrastructure assets is being practised in other jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand, and is also making inroads in Canada, particularly in our western provinces. Canadian municipalities have a growing interest in applying proper asset management principles and practices to the infrastructure they are responsible for planning, building, operating, and maintaining.
One of the issues is that municipalities often need resources dedicated to building capacity at the local level in order to undertake proper asset management assessment practices.
As you think about the future of public infrastructure investments, we hope you will agree there is an important role for the Government of Canada to play in promoting asset management and capacity building within municipalities. We believe dedicated funding would be beneficial.
The second issue I'd like to summarize for you this afternoon is sustainable infrastructure.
The principles of sustainable development are now considered to be fundamental to how civil engineers and the public can more successfully address the return on investment in infrastructure and meet today’s societal needs. These concerns have led to the development of sustainability rating systems that provide a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community, environmental, and economic benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects. These include not only the roads, bridges, waste-water treatment plants, and public parks municipalities deal with, but also the massive infrastructure projects such as pipelines, airports, dams, levees, power transmission lines, and telecommunications towers.
Our association believes in adopting and adapting best practices where possible, which is why in our written submission we provide an example of a sustainability rating system that has been developed in the United States called Envision. Used as a planning tool for projects, rating systems such as Envision can help identify sustainable approaches during the planning, design, construction, and operation of infrastructure.
In closing, Mr. Chair, here again we see a potential role for the federal government to play. The government could consider taking a leadership role in supporting the use of sustainability rating tools and systems for evaluating and rating the community, environmental, and economic benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects.
Mr. Chair, I will leave it there, and I look forward to questions from the committee members.
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Brock Carlton
View Brock Carlton Profile
Brock Carlton
2015-05-12 16:09
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It must be the right number, if you've done the research. I don't have the number with me specifically, partly because, as we have said many times, the thing with the building Canada fund is that it's for projects that are approved. Work is done, receipts are sent in, and payment is made—
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Kealy Dedman
View Kealy Dedman Profile
Kealy Dedman
2015-05-12 16:13
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With significant investments that are coming in over the next decade through the new building Canada plan, there is a good opportunity to look at how we assess sustainability. That's why, through our submission, we refer to sustainability rating tools such as the Envision tool. It gives us some metrics and some standards that we may want to look to.
That tool in particular our organization looks to adopt and adapt where possible, and you are correct that it has been used in Canada in several projects. Just recently, the Grand Bend waste-water treatment facility received a platinum award through the Envision rating system.
I think the key for the federal government is that it could take a role in promoting the use of those tools and systems as we go forward with the investments in infrastructure.
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View David McGuinty Profile
Lib. (ON)
View David McGuinty Profile
2015-05-07 17:04
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Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I'm sorry I'm late, gentlemen. Like my colleague, I've just come from the House where we were debating a bill.
My question will be addressed to Mr. Pednault-Jobin.
Two days ago, I asked the assistant deputy minister responsible for policy at Infrastructure Canada to confirm whether it is mandatory to put up signs in front of every project into which the federal government has injected money. He confirmed that this was obligatory and that only taxpayers' money was used to put up those billboards.
Could you tell us how many of these signs were put up in the city of Gatineau and who is paying for them?
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Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin
View Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin Profile
Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin
2015-05-07 17:05
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No, I don't have that information. However, I could do some research and send you that in writing. I take note of your question.
Our city is among those that make the greatest use of the Building Canada Plan. So we could certainly determine how many of these signs have been put up in our area.
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Jeff Moore
View Jeff Moore Profile
Jeff Moore
2015-05-05 15:30
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Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, committee members. I'd like to thank the chair and committee members for inviting us here today.
My name is Jeff Moore and I'm the assistant deputy minister of policy and communications at Infrastructure Canada.
Joining me today is Stephanie Tanton, director of strategic policy, and Bogdan Makuc, acting director general for program operations.
In the context of this committee's study on infrastructure investment in Canada, I would like to take a few moments to provide you with an overview of the investment in provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure that Infrastructure Canada has made over the past 15 years.
I would also like to provide you with a sense of what the impact of investment in public infrastructure from all levels of government has been, and how Canada's level of investment compares internationally.
Finally, I would like to give you an overview of the new building Canada plan and our progress in its implementation.
I would like to note that my remarks will be limited to federal investments in provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure. Infrastructure Canada transfer payment programs do not target federal assets.
The majority of Canada's core public infrastructure is owned by provinces, territories, and municipalities. ln fact, over 95% of public infrastructure, including highways, local roads and bridges, public transit systems, and water and waste water infrastructure is owned by provinces, territories, and municipalities.
If we look over the past 20 years, there's been a significant change in the approach of the Government of Canada toward investment in provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure. A chart which illustrates this change in federal support is contained in chapter 3.4 of budget 2015 on page 190. In case you don't have the budget with you today, we do have some charts that we could circulate or have been circulated for your information.
The mid to late 1990s marked a period of relative underinvestment in public infrastructure by all levels of government. ln fact, gross investments in public infrastructure were at their lowest—as a percentage of GDP—since the late 1940s. However, an improved economic situation laid the groundwork for a major turnaround in public infrastructure investment by the early 2000s by all levels of government.
lt aIso marked a new policy approach for the federal government in recognizing the essential role public infrastructure, including provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure, plays in supporting national goals of economic competitiveness, a cleaner environment, and strong communities.
ln the early 2000s, the Government of Canada created a number of infrastructure programs to support infrastructure across the country. The most significant of these programs included: $2.05 billion for urban and rural municipal infrastructure through the Infrastructure Canada program; $4.3 billion for large-scale infrastructure projects that support economic growth provided through the Canada strategic infrastructure fund; $1.2 billion in funding for smaller-scale municipal infrastructure projects, such as water and waste water treatment, and cultural and recreational projects, mainly for smaller municipalities and first nations communities through the municipal rural infrastructure fund; and $600 million in funding for infrastructure projects that help sustain and increase the long-term efficiency of the Canada-U.S. border through the border infrastructure fund.
In August 2002, the Government of Canada established Infrastructure Canada as a new department to provide a focal point for infrastructure issues and programs.
In 2005, the Government of Canada established the federal gas tax fund. This fund provided $5 billion over 5 years for municipal infrastructure including public transit, road, and water and wastewater infrastructure. The design of the gas tax fund included predictable upfront funding for municipalities, who were responsible for choosing projects based on their own priorities. Funds were allocated largely based on population.
In 2007, the Government of Canada created the seven-year, $33-billion Building Canada fund, composed of a suite of complementary funding programs, which included: $8.8 billion in targeted funding through the Building Canada fund for national and regional projects through a major infrastructure component and targeted funding for local projects through a communities component; $20 billion in base funding through the gas tax fund and the provincial-territorial base fund programs, and the GST rebate; over $3 billion in funding to support Canadian trade transportation infrastructure through the gateways and border crossings fund and the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative; and $1.25 billion for P3 projects through the P3 Canada fund.
Finally, announced in January 2009, as part of Canada's economic action plan, the $4-billion infrastructure stimulus fund supported over 4,000 projects as a short-term boost to the Canadian economy during a period of global recession. The infrastructure stimulus fund was one of a number of infrastructure programs created and delivered via economic action plan 2009.
Over the past 10 to 15 years, we have therefore seen a significant increase in federal support for provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure from $400 million in spending in 2002 to over $4.7 billion in spending in 2013.
In that context, though, it is important to bear in mind that the federal funding share of combined provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure investments continues to be small. Federal investments rose from a 1990s average of around 2.5% to close to 13% at the peak of stimulus funding in 2010-11 before falling.
Before talking to you about current infrastructure investments, I would like to tell you how Canada's investments compare with those of other G7 nations and share information on the average age of infrastructure across Canada.
How does Canada compare with other countries in terms of level of investment?
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD, from 2003 to 2013, Canada has significantly increased public sector capital investment in relation to the GDP. In fact, Canada has seen the most increase out of all of the G-7 countries, up 0.7 percentage points to 3.9% from 3.2%. At 3.9% of GDP, Canada ranks as one of the highest among the G-7 countries, second only to France.
While these numbers seem to be good news, there are some limitations. They do not take into account key national differences, including levels in public ownership and geography, nor do they provide any indication of the optimal level of investment needed to support a competitive and resilient economy. Furthermore, these numbers include a broad range of fixed capital investments, including buildings and equipment, assets outside of what we consider core public infrastructure in Canada.
In terms of average age of core public infrastructure, support from the Government of Canada has helped provincial, territorial, and municipal governments contribute to the ongoing renewal and improvement of Canada's core public infrastructure. Data on the average age of core public infrastructure over the past 10 years shows a decline of 2.8 years, from 17.5 years in 2003 to 14.7 years for 2013.
To break this down, from 2003 to 2013, data shows that the average age of road infrastructure has decreased from 16 years to 12.7 years; the average age of public transit infrastructure has decreased from 13.8 years to 11.4 years; the average age of waste water infrastructure has decreased from 17.7 years to 16.6 years; and the average age of drinking water infrastructure has decreased from 19.5 years to 15.6 years.
While this appears to show a positive trend, I would like to point out that there are limitations to the data. Most importantly, it does not tell us anything about whether infrastructure assets are meeting existing needs, will meet future demands, or satisfy broader policy objectives.
Now to current federal investments in infrastructure.
The success of the 2007 building Canada plan laid the foundation for the design of the new building Canada plan—a $53-billion, 10-year infrastructure plan announced in the 2013 economic action plan focused on supporting projects that enhance economic growth, job creation and productivity.
The new building Canada plan is made up of a number of funding programs with complementary objectives. The community improvement fund, which consists of the federal gas tax fund and the incremental goods and services tax rebate for municipalities, provides $32 billion in base funding to municipalities.
The gas tax fund was made permanent in the new plan to provide long-term, predictable infrastructure funding to Canadian municipalities. Furthermore, the fund was indexed at 2% per year to be applied in $100-million increments. This means the fund will grow by $1.8 billion over the next decade, providing a total of $21.8 billion for municipal infrastructure.
Finally, the number of eligible investment categories under the gas tax fund was expanded from six to 17, including sport, tourism, and culture, to increase flexibility for municipalities.
Next we have the $14-billion new building Canada fund, which consists of a national and a provincial-territorial envelope. The national infrastructure component, or NIC, allocates $4 billion for large, nationally significant infrastructure projects that result in positive economic activity.
Eligible investment categories include highways and major roads, public transit, disaster mitigation, and rail, airport and port infrastructure. There are no provincial or territorial allocations under the national infrastructure component; potential proponents apply directly to Infrastructure Canada for funding.
The provincial-territorial infrastructure component, or PTIC, is a $10-billion fund for national, regional and local projects that contribute to economic growth, a clean environment and stronger communities. Under this component, each province and territory receives an allocation that consists of $250 million in base funding and a per-capita allocation. Eligible investment categories are broader than under the national infrastructure component and include highways and major roads, public transit, connectivity and broadband, drinking water, wastewater, solid waste management and green energy.
The PTIC is separated into two specific envelopes, the national and regional projects component of $9 billion and the small communities fund of $1 billion for local projects in communities with populations under 100,000.
Finally, the new building Canada plan provided an additional $1.5 billion in funding for the P3—otherwise known as public-private partnerships—Canada fund, administered by PPP Canada, which provides support for provincial, territorial, municipal, and first nations public-private partnership infrastructure projects.
As you know, the new building Canada fund was launched just over a year ago, on March 28, 2014. Since that time, the focus of Infrastructure Canada has been to work with our provincial, territorial, and municipal partners to bring forward projects for funding consideration.
To date the Government of Canada has announced over $68 million in federal funding under the national infrastructure component for projects with total estimated project costs amounting to $207.5 million, as well as $1.06 billion in federal funding for national and regional projects under the provincial-territorial infrastructure component towards projects with total estimated project costs amounting to $5.79 billion.
Under the small communities fund, we have concluded 11 agreements with the provinces and territories, and all but two jurisdictions have begun the project selection process to date.
ln addition, the new gas tax fund agreements have been signed in all provinces and territories, and the $2-billion national allocation for 2014-15 has been transferred from the federal government to each province and territory. Notably, the new gas tax fund agreements contain commitments by provinces and territories to improve asset management in their respective jurisdictions.
Before I conclude I would like to mention that budget 2015 has proposed to provide PPP Canada with $750 million over two years starting in 2017-18, and $1 billion annually ongoing thereafter for a new public transit fund. The fund will provide support to projects that are delivered through alternative financing and funding mechanisms involving the private sector that demonstrate value for money for taxpayers, including public-private partnerships.
At Infrastructure Canada, our plan for the upcoming year will be to continue to work diligently to deliver the new building Canada plan.
I hope my remarks have been helpful for the committee, and my colleagues and I are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you very much.
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-05 16:04
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Moore, and officials from Infrastructure Canada for being here today. It's really helpful as we embark on our study on infrastructure that we begin with this presentation by you. It's been a very helpful and comprehensive overview. Thank you as well for your role in helping and, as you concluded your presentation by saying, working diligently to deliver the new building Canada plan.
With respect to the new building Canada plan, could you outline the objectives of the new building Canada plan, simply put?
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Jeff Moore
View Jeff Moore Profile
Jeff Moore
2015-05-05 16:04
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The objectives of the new building Canada plan are really to increase the economic competitiveness of Canada. There are also other objectives in terms of the type of asset classes that we're supporting, support for the environment, and support for other key objectives of the Government of Canada. I guess you could say there are a number of sub-objectives to the plan as well.
The plan is very comprehensive in terms of its approach because we have the gas tax fund, which supports a variety of asset classes for municipalities.
As I said previously in my other answers, as you move your way up though the spectrum of the type of support we can provide through the plan, we get much more into areas of economic development. A good example of that is the national infrastructure component in the new building Canada fund, where we actually look at increases in economic activity related to projects we might support. We look at trying to mitigate potential disruptions related to economic activity and we also look at increasing economic productivity through the national infrastructure component of the NBCF.
There are a variety of objectives that are contained within the plan itself, but at the end of the day, it's about improving the economy in Canada.
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-05 16:06
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With respect to the new building Canada plan, could you outline or explain the role of other levels of government with respect to applications under the plan; so the role of the municipality and the role of the province? For example, under the provincial-territorial infrastructure component of the plan, could you outline the respective roles and responsibilities?
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Jeff Moore
View Jeff Moore Profile
Jeff Moore
2015-05-05 16:07
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Under the new building Canada plan, as I said, we have three key funds. We have the community improvement fund, which includes the gas tax fund as well as the GST rebate. Infrastructure Canada has nothing to do with the GST rebate because that's administered by CRA.
In terms of the gas tax fund, that funding is allocated on a per capita basis and actually flows through the provinces and territories for the most part. There are some exceptions to that, of course. In Ontario, we actually flow the gas tax fund directly to Toronto, as well as through the Association of Municipalities for Ontario. In B.C., there's an exception where we also work through the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
The provinces and territories act as a facilitator through the gas tax fund to ensure the funding gets out to municipalities and to ensure that there's proper reporting done as well in terms of the types of projects that we're supporting under the gas tax fund.
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View Hoang Mai Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hoang Mai Profile
2015-05-05 16:37
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I have a question that is related to the new building plan. We got complaints from the ferry association, which moves 55 million passengers annually and operates across the country. There is an issue with the building Canada plan in that it excludes passenger ferries operating outside urban centres from receiving funding. Can you tell us why?
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Stephanie Tanton
View Stephanie Tanton Profile
Stephanie Tanton
2015-05-05 16:38
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My understanding is that nothing precludes ferry providers from being eligible recipients; however, under our categories, ferries are eligible only as part of public transit systems. Is that what you're referring to?
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-05 17:06
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Okay.
In terms of the provincial-territorial infrastructure component, PTIC, provinces need to prioritize projects before they come to the federal government. Are some provinces further ahead than others in the country under the PTIC component on the new building Canada plan?
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-05 17:07
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Great. Thank you.
The issue of increased frequency of flooding has come up. Could you confirm that disaster mitigation is an eligible category under every component of the new building Canada plan? Is that correct?
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Jeff Moore
View Jeff Moore Profile
Jeff Moore
2015-05-05 17:08
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Yes, it is.
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-05-05 17:08
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Great.
Finally, when Infrastructure Canada, when the Government of Canada, does participate in a project under the new building Canada plan, could you explain how the reimbursement process to the municipality works?
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Bogdan Makuc
View Bogdan Makuc Profile
Bogdan Makuc
2015-05-05 17:08
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Sure.
Generally we have an agreement in place before any payments can be made or any reimbursements are made. We always have to have that condition in place. A municipality will go ahead and proceed with the project, construction will occur and take place, and they will submit the appropriate documentation to our organization, Infrastructure Canada. We do some reviews, ensure that we have the appropriate information, and we issue a payment. It's quite a simple process.
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View Mike Sullivan Profile
NDP (ON)
View Mike Sullivan Profile
2015-05-05 17:15
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Thank you again, Mr. Moore.
The new 10-year building Canada plan has been in existence since sometime in the spring of 2013, by the looks of the little line on the chart here that Mr. Watson was holding up for the cameras.
Can we get the data since that time: what has been applied for, what has been granted, how much was applied for, what was the total value of each of the projects, and whether or not there were P3s?
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View Denis Lebel Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, committee members. It's a pleasure to see all of you again, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with you.
I welcome the opportunity to outline the 2015-16 main estimates for infrastructure, communities, the federal bridges in Montreal, and the economic development agency of Canada for the region of Quebec.
I am joined today, like you said, by senior officials from Infrastructure Canada: deputy minister Louis Lévesque; chief financial officer, Darlene Boileau; associate deputy minister, Yazmine Laroche; Monsieur Marc Lemieux, from CEDQ, I have the honour to be with a lot of people from the department I have the honour to represent.
I am accompanied by these people to show you how we are working hard for the Canadian population. We have achieved a lot since our appearance before this committee this time last year, demonstrating that our Conservative government support for infrastructure remains stronger than ever. This is evident in the efforts put toward implementing the new Building Canada plan, and in our commitment to ensure that the new bridge for the St. Lawrence, one of the leading infrastructure projects in North America, is completed by 2018.
These two initiatives account for the lion's share of our planned spending, and I am pleased that we are here to seek funding that will be applied towards projects supported by these great initiatives.
As you know, the Government of Canada has made unprecedented investments in infrastructure. Since we took office, Canada has consistently ranked at the top of the G-7 in infrastructure investment as a percentage of the GDP. It's quite a contrast from the Liberal years when Canada was sitting at the bottom of the group.
With those record investments, we have been able to reduce the average age of public infrastructure to its lowest level since the 1980s. And with $75 billion dedicated for public infrastructure, we will continue on this momentum. We will continue to invest in key and strategic infrastructure to support Canada's growth and economic development.
Clearly, this investment includes $53 billion over 10 years for the new building Canada plan, the largest and longest federal infrastructure plan in our nation's history.
It is through this historical plan and under the federal gas tax fund that we will make billions of dollars available to municipalities in 2015 and support thousands of new or existing projects addressing local priorities across the country.
Proponents across the country have begun submitting business cases for review and have started identifying projects for funding under the various components of the plan.
For example, earlier this year, we announced close to $44 million in federal funding for key upgrades to the Port of Montreal under the national infrastructure component of the new building Canada fund.
We have also done a lot of work with our partners under the provincial-territorial infrastructure component.
In fact, projects worth more than $5 billion in total have been identified.
You may also recall that we have dedicated $1 billion to the provincial-territorial infrastructure component of the small communities fund for projects in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents.
I would now like to draw your attention to one of the largest public infrastructure projects under way in North America, the new bridge for the St. Lawrence corridor project, and how we plan on spending requested funds over the next fiscal year. I would like to take this opportunity to provide a status update on the project.
I am pleased to report that the project continues to progress very well and everything is on track. The year 2015 in particular will be a landmark year with construction to begin in late spring or early summer.
Let me remind you that the project is being carried out as a public-private partnership to ensure that taxpayers receive the best value for money and that the project is on time.
We are currently in the request for proposals stage. Three eligible consortia provided their technical submissions in mid-February. They have until April 1, 2015, to submit their financial proposals. Once we have these proposals, we will name the project's selected proponent.
Our Conservative government has met all of its timelines in preparation for construction. For instance, in September 2014, we completed the construction of a temporary causeway on Île des Soeurs. Not only was the work completed three months ahead of schedule, but the cost was also $25 million less than anticipated, which once again shows the diligence and excellence of the teams working on the project.
In January 2015 we also launched major work with Hydro-Québec to move a segment of a transmission line in Brossard to enable construction of the new bridge for the St. Lawrence. We are committed to having the new bridge for the St. Lawrence in service by 2018 and to having the remainder of the corridor project completed by 2020. The project is expected to create 30,000 jobs, and will have a positive impact on the local, regional, and national economies.
Mr. Chair, we are also seeking approximately $1.5 billion to support new or ongoing projects being funded under existing funding programs and agreements. These include projects under the Building Canada fund's major infrastructure component, and for continued work on the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway.
Of course, I also have the honour of serving as Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, so every region in Quebec is served by our department. The Economic Development Agency of Canada's mandate is to support the economic growth of every region of Quebec, and we spare no effort in doing so.
With your permission, I will give you a few examples and present a few figures which clearly illustrate the Economic Development Agency of Canada's activities since 2006. We are talking about 5,326 projects funded, nearly $2.5 billion paid out in contributions by the federal government, and more than $9 billion in total planned investments with partners.
The priority of our Conservative government remains job creation, economic growth, and long-term prosperity. CEDQ's action is very much aligned with it. The department encourages the start-up and growth of businesses by helping them to become more competitive, more productive and innovative, and to get access to new markets. CEDQ also assists regions of Quebec that are seeking to mobilize and attract new investments that will increase their prosperity. CEDQ is present in every region of Quebec through its 12 offices, but it also has more particular focus on regions experiencing slower economic growth.
CEDQ's advisers are in direct contact with SMEs, key economic actors, and organizations to offer them guidance and financial support. Through its main funding program, the Quebec economic development program, CEDQ also contributes to strengthening the economy of communities and regions that face specific issues through targeted and time-limited help.
CEDQ maintains its efforts to support affected communities through the Canadian initiative for the economic diversification of communities reliant on chrysotile, launched in June 2013 with $50 million budgeted over seven years. That's over seven years; for sure we'll see this part in the budget again, because it's over seven years. It's to help out communities and businesses in
the Appalaches and the Sources RCM.
So far 17 projects have received funding; $6.5 million has been spent; $25 million more is currently projected to be spent; and $19.5 million will be reserved for this region in future. Our team is still working on the ground day to day.
In July 2013, following the disaster in Lac-Mégantic, we launched an economic recovery initiative for the economic revitalization and reconstruction of the town.
With an envelope of $35 million over seven years, the initiative includes the following three components: reconstruction assistance of up to $20 million; up to $10 million in direct assistance to businesses and NPOs; and assistance in the form of two investment funds of up to $5 million, managed by the Mégantic region Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC).
I repeat, we are talking about $35 million over seven years. You will see this again next year, because not all the money will be invested this year. We are talking about next year, but we know that if the money that was supposed to be spent has not been used, there is a seven-year period. I am sure I will hear about it again, but that being said, we are talking about seven years.
To date, 16 projects have received funding. Over $15 million has been paid out in contributions for planned investments of nearly $35 million. Of course, the two program investments will be invested in the regions for which the money had been earmarked. A dedicated team is on site and is working closely with local partners to make sure that their needs are clearly understood, to guide them through the economic development process and to identify potential funding options.
In light of the false information circulated recently, I would like to stress once more that the funds are spent or carried over to subsequent years based on needs. The funds carried over are primarily from projects whose scope or timeline was below the forecast, projects that extend over several years.
I'm very proud of our progress in building infrastructure projects that are delivering real results for Canadians. The officials I have the honour to work with and I will be pleased to answer your questions about any aspect of our main estimates that will enable us to continue this record of achievement.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
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View David McGuinty Profile
Lib. (ON)
View David McGuinty Profile
2015-03-10 16:52
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Thanks, Mr. Chair.
Welcome to the committee, Mr. Minister.
Mr. Minister, I'd like to start by recalling an exchange we had about a year ago on March 25, 2014. I asked you if there was any new money with respect to the estimates. Mr. Lévesque responded that it was not in the estimates. I replied, is there no new money on April 1? You replied, Minister, no, it is not in the estimates.
This year you brought us estimates of $3.6 billion—down from roughly $3.7 billion last year—when infrastructure needs in Canada are soaring, when overpasses and roads are falling on the heads of people living, for example, in
the beautiful city of Montreal.
The old Building Canada fund had grown to about $1.6 billion a year for community infrastructure projects, but now the funding has dropped off a cliff. This is undeniable. It's falling by close to 90% to just $210 million per year, starving municipalities of much-needed cash.
It won't recover for five years. You know that. We know that. It's punted into a political never-never land and we know why, Minister, because it's a political decision, and governments make political decisions. Fair enough. But your government has made a decision in an attempt to balance a budget and make reckless spending promises with respect to income splitting, for example.
You have done nothing, or little, or not as much as you could have, to generate economic growth, create jobs, and help middle-class families.
How do you explain this?
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View Denis Lebel Profile
CPC (QC)
First of all, I totally disagree with you. I have a chart from Budget 2013 of the average age of public infrastructure in Canada. You can see the age of the infrastructure from 1973 to 1994 and 1997. The peak age of infrastructure in the country was in 2000, 2003, 2006. Since that era, it's been declining and will continue to do so because we're investing in infrastructure.
I, like 25 other of my colleagues, including the chair of this committee, am a former municipal politician. We know exactly what is on the table now. We have doubled, extended
in legislation for the
gas tax fund. But that's a 10-year program; it's not a race. They don't have to expend this money this year, but for the next 10 years. No money will be taken from this program.
For the national infrastructure component, for the provincial and territorial component, it's a 10-year program. In the budget we have the money needed for the projects, but it's not a race, and the provinces and municipalities will have all the money they want in the next 10 years.
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View David McGuinty Profile
Lib. (ON)
View David McGuinty Profile
2015-03-10 16:56
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Two questions.
The Minister of Transport was here just a minute ago. She confirmed for us that this government is spending $35 million on rail safety, and I'm now advising you that you're spending $42 million on economic action plan advertising.
As part of your estimates, the government has given an additional $11 million for more obscene advertising on television and billboards. Your infrastructure department has spent $29 million on billboards in the last five years. That's $29 million on billboards, Minister.
Of the $11 million that has been allocated to the government, how much is your department spending on billboards and additional advertising in these estimates?
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View Denis Lebel Profile
CPC (QC)
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been involved in all the processes to build this Building Canada plan.
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View Denis Lebel Profile
CPC (QC)
I have listened to you for your question. You will listen to my answer.
We have built the program with them for 10 years, but there have been around 13 round tables all across Canada. They have known since the beginning of the process what will be in the program, and the money reserved for them through the gas tax fund for 10 years will all be sent to them, and we'll continue to work with them.
I didn't hear the Minister of Transport's answer to you.
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-03-10 17:02
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Okay, thank you very much.
If I understand the mechanics of the new Building Canada plan correctly, and I think I do, the projects that are submitted are submitted by municipalities and provinces, driven by those partner levels of government; and should we see an increase in project submissions, then we could revisit the estimates through the supplementary estimates process. Is that not correct?
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View Denis Lebel Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes, you're right.
If we could talk about the gas tax, we have to transfer the year to the provinces. That's close to $2 billion. This year we transferred close to $2 billion to the provinces in July and November. For sure it will be higher in the years to come, but only for the gas tax fund. We transfer this money twice a year.
That's a 10-year plan. What we also have to remember is that it's not a race. They don't have to submit their projects this year, because provinces and territories know exactly what they are doing. They have a 10-year plan, and we will manage the money. The money will overlap for them according to the way they propose their projects. That's the way we're working with them and that's the way we want to continue.
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View Peter Braid Profile
CPC (ON)
View Peter Braid Profile
2015-03-10 17:07
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Thank you
Coming back to infrastructure for my final question, in 2007, our government established the Building Canada plan, and then in Budget 2013 we announced the new Building Canada plan.
Minister, could you briefly explain how the new Building Canada plan is different from the original Building Canada plan?
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