Evidence of meeting #60 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was ppp.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Martine Lajoie  Chief, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance
  • Maxime Beaupré  Senior Economist, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance
  • Daniel Macdonald  Chief, Federal-Provincial Relations Division, CHT/CST and Northern Policy, Department of Finance
  • Nicholas S. Wise  Excutive Director, Strategic Policy, Priorities and Planning, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Christiane Allard  Advisor, Strategic Policy, Priorities and Planning, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Sue Foster  Director General, Policy, Quality and Appeals Directorate, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
  • Peter Edwards  Acting Corporate Secretary, Corporate Secretariat, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
  • Peter Boyd  Director General and Departmental Security Officer, Integrity Services Branch - Internal Integrity and Security, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
  • Margaret Strysio  Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency
  • Jonah Mitchell  Assistant Director, Parks Canada Agency
  • Stephen Bolton  Director, Border Law Enforcement Strategies Division, Public Safety Canada
  • Superintendent Joe Oliver  Director General, Border Integrity, Federal and International Operations, Department of Public Safety

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

I call this meeting to order. This is the 60th meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance. We are being televised.

Our orders of the day are pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, May 14, 2012. We are studying Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.

Colleagues, as you recall, last night we were still discussing part 4 of Bill C-38. This morning we are starting with division 3. Division 3 deals with PPP Canada Inc.

We have two officials with us here this morning for this division. We want to welcome them to the committee.

If either or both of you have an opening statement or an overview of this division, please go ahead, and then we'll have questions from members.

9:35 a.m.

Martine Lajoie Chief, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance

Perfect. Thank you.

Good morning.

PPP Canada is a crown corporation mandated to lead the government sector to improve the delivery of public infrastructure by achieving better value, timeliness, and accountability to taxpayers through the effective use of public-private partnerships in Canada.

PPP Canada is incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act by order, by Canada Development Investment Corporation. By order it was made a parent corporation under the Financial Administration Act. At its incorporation it was decided to make PPP Canada Inc. a non-agent crown corporation.

Division 3 of the BIA confirms that PPP Canada does not act as an agent of Her Majesty, except for certain activities. It is proposed that PPP Canada be recognized as an agent of the crown for activities related to the P3 screen on federal capital projects and for the provision of advisory services to federal departments and crown corporations on federal P3s, acting as a source of expertise and advice on P3s for departments and crown corporations.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Okay. That's your opening statement.

We'll now hear questions from members. Are there any questions?

Mr. Marston, go ahead, please.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

One of the things we've been hearing at this committee for a quite a long time is the fact that there are a lot of business dollars—about $500 billion was the figure that's been quoted to us—that are parked right now, that people are afraid to use. I presume it's because they're fearing another credit crunch from the banks.

This budget has been described by some as an austere budget. We have said that, perhaps, if the government had taken advantage of the low interest rates, with the bonds where they are now, and taken 10-year bonds, it could have started a program to revitalize the infrastructure in Canada. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has said there's about $120 billion worth of infrastructure that needs to be done.

Would you see this organization taking part in something like that, should it happen?

9:35 a.m.

Chief, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance

Martine Lajoie

The role of PPP Canada is specifically targeted to supporting and encouraging the use of public-private partnerships when it's deemed that it would be a better value for taxpayers. To that extent, yes, it is destined to support public infrastructure projects that are identified by provinces, territories, and first nations that should be pursued under a P3 procurement approach.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

That's all I have.

Thank you.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Marston.

I have Mr. Jean, please.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm interested in a general recap of what's taken place up to now. I know this is included in the budget. But we had, of course, as Mr. Marston said.... In 2005, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities came out and said there was a $123 billion infrastructure deficit in the country left by some years of neglect by both federal and provincial governments in the past.

Of course, we came out with Canada's economic action plan in 2006 through 2009, a series of investments of $47 billion—$33 billion in infrastructure, along with many stimulus projects. Of course, that type of investment was geared so that it would be a tripartisan investment, looking for provincial and territorial governments, along with other parties, to invest. Municipalities put in a third, the federal government put in a third, and the provincial governments put in a third, in essence to cap up, to get us past the $123 billion and to try to recoup some of that.

I know the P3 projects had a late start in getting out, but we have had tremendous response from the FCM over our projects and over our investments. Have you seen the depletion of some of that desperate need that we had in 2006 when we took over as a government? Has that changed dramatically? Would you know of the inventory, of whether these projects have come forward?

I, myself, in northern Alberta.... We had a huge infrastructure deficit. We still have one in relation to our Highway 63 and other areas, because of the fast growth. But we have seen a tremendous investment by the federal government, almost somewhere around $800 million, in that area, over the last six years—provincial governments as well. We got our second, third, and fourth overpass in a number of years, which is great. And we've seen a bottleneck of infrastructure eliminated. Have you seen that across Canada as well?

9:35 a.m.

Chief, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance

Martine Lajoie

You were right to correct. You mentioned that since 2006 there has been major investment by the federal government. There's the Building Canada plan, which has provided $33 billion, of which PPP Canada and the P3 fund is a part. The economic action plan added to that a good $11 billion. I don't have with me the analysis on the current stock of projects that need to be furthered. As you know, the government has launched consultations with the provinces, stakeholders, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on the development of a new long-term plan that would extend beyond the expiry of the Building Canada plan. It's in that context that the government will work with its partners on identifying the needs for the future.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

We've seen some P3 projects, particularly in western Canada because of the tremendous growth there. The Kicking Horse Pass, which came in under budget, was a P3 project, a public-private partnership. It came in under budget, as I say, and actually was expedited by I think eight months or so—the ring road around Edmonton and some others have taken place.

Is that what you've seen consistently with P3 projects over the past six years, that they are, for the most part, coming in under budget or faster than with other projects historically?

9:40 a.m.

Maxime Beaupré Senior Economist, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance

It's true that P3 projects in general achieve better value, both by delivering on time and on budget. In terms of completing projects, the federal experience so far has been relatively limited. Under the PPP Canada fund, only one project has been successfully completed. Others are under way. The project in question is in Winnipeg. You mentioned the ring road. It's the Chief Peguis Trail in Winnipeg. It did come under budget, and I think it's almost a year in advance. But it's true that the provinces have also had a great experience with their P3 programs.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Rajotte

You have thirty seconds.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Of course, it was slow at the start because the P3 office was established in 2006. I think $2.1 billion was allocated originally. Getting things started does take some time, especially when it's a new concept and the due diligence, accountability, and transparency foundations have to be set up. Is that correct?

9:40 a.m.

Chief, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance

Martine Lajoie

The corporation was established in 2008 and became active in 2009. There have been three rounds of applications. The fourth one was launched in mid-April. The corporation has witnessed a major increase in the number of applications submitted through each round. To date, seven projects have been announced, and, yes, there is a great deal of interest.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Great job. Thank you very much for your work.