An Act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act


Niki Ashton  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Defeated, as of June 22, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-245.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act to refocus the purpose of the Bank and to provide that it must give priority to certain investments and infrastructure projects.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


June 22, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-245, An Act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 26th, 2023 / 12:05 p.m.
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Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague brought forward Bill C-245, and it was a way of fixing the infrastructure bank. What we have seen, time and time again, with the government is that it is very good at coming forward with these big projects, big words, big announcements and proposals, such as the red dress alert, announcements on housing and the core ombudsperson, which I know she knows quite a lot about. However, the action and follow-through are not actually there.

Does she believe that this infrastructure bank could be saved if the Liberal government actually stepped up and put some principles in place, principles that were in the legislation she wrote, to fix the infrastructure bank at this time?

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 26th, 2023 / 11:55 a.m.
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Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed that Conservatives did not support my bill, Bill C-245, which sought to transform the Infrastructure Bank in such a way that it could make a difference in the lives of Canadians, when it comes to the major infrastructure needs in our communities.

It is not a bad thing to have a Crown corporation that is committed to building desperately needed infrastructure in our country, particularly as we face the climate crisis. We know that our infrastructure needs are significant on various fronts, but we also know that we are particularly deficient when it comes to climate-resilient infrastructure and ensuring our communities have the kind of infrastructure they need to face the climate crisis.

I want to acknowledge that the Bloc supported our bill at second reading, and I am thankful for that support, as well as that of the Green MPs.

The reality is that, in ditching Bill C-245, Canada missed an opportunity to transform a Crown corporation, an infrastructure bank, in such a way that it could meet the needs of our communities.

My bill was rooted in the experience of communities like the ones I represent, communities that are on the front lines of the climate crisis and are facing record wildfires and flooding. Communities such as the first nations on the east side of Lake Winnipeg do not have all-weather road access. They have to rely on ice roads for shorter periods of time to access medical services, shop more affordably and bring in the materials they need to build the homes they desperately require and other necessary infrastructure. I have heard time and again from first nations and northern leaders. As a northerner myself, it is clear to me that the infrastructure gap in regions like ours is only getting worse.

In talking about Bill C-245, I heard stories from first nations. One first nation was refused funding to upgrade a community home that was in desperate need of fixing because it could not show Canada's Infrastructure Bank how it was profitable. A northern community that was trying to switch from diesel fuel was told to apply for solar panel funding in the middle of winter. There are serious concerns from indigenous leaders that Indigenous Services Canada may help out once things are really and truly broken, but not a moment before.

Prior to Bill C-245 coming to the House at second reading, I acknowledged at the time that communities in my riding were facing immense challenges, as communities were becoming isolated with the melting of the ice roads. One of the projects we talked about needing investment was an all-weather road on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, connecting a dozen first nations that right now are becoming increasingly isolated as a result of the impacts of the climate crises.

We also talked about the transfer from diesel reliance to more sustainable forms of energy. Four of the communities I represent in the far north of northern Manitoba still depend on diesel fuel. We know that many communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are in the same boat. This is unnecessary, given our ability to invest in sustainable energy. That requires government involvement, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank would be well placed to be involved in this kind of work.

As the climate crisis becomes more serious, it is clear that our infrastructure is not up to snuff. It is clear that our communities desperately need a partner in the federal government to invest in the infrastructure we need. Currently, we know that Indigenous Services Canada is not meeting the needs, by a longshot, of indigenous communities when it comes to infrastructure. The housing crisis in communities, for example, is acute. There is a need for critical infrastructure, whether it is health centres, or water and sewer, or roads in the communities or roads connecting communities that currently do not exist.

Indigenous Services Canada is not meeting the needs of indigenous communities. The Canada Infrastructure Bank could play that kind of role. It is not playing that role right now.

Since Bill C-245, we have noticed that the Canada Infrastructure Bank has paid greater attention to the needs of northern and even indigenous communities. I want to acknowledge the work being done on the airport here in Thompson and the Canada Infrastructure Bank's involvement there. I also want to acknowledge the work of the Keewatin Tribal Council in pushing the visionary Pusiko development and hope that the infrastructure bank will be a willing partner in terms of investing in this kind of legacy project.

However, I am deeply disappointed that we are still not seeing the kind of significant investment in northern and indigenous communities or communities across the country, underscoring the work of the transport committee. What is the point of an infrastructure bank that is not making a difference to communities? On that, I want to end by saying that many of us are in Parliament because we want to better the lives of our constituents, people across our country and people around the world.

To that end, I would like to finish my speech by stating clearly that Canada must call for a ceasefire now in Israel and Gaza. Canada must be a voice for peace and justice. As the representative of UNRWA said, “History will ask why the world did not have the courage to act decisively and stop this hell on Earth.”

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 26th, 2023 / 11:50 a.m.
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Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House to speak to an important report put forward by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities that takes on the Canada Infrastructure Bank, a Crown corporation that the Liberals have touted as a real model for years and unfortunately has very little to show for it.

I want to acknowledge the work of my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, as well as other MPs from other parties who have been very clear that the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which, over a year ago was sitting on $25 billion, had very little to show for the work it was supposed to be doing.

I also want to share on the record, as colleagues of mine have said, that I am proud of the work we did to put forward a private member's bill, Bill C-245, that would transform the Canada Infrastructure Bank for the better for Canadians. In essence, our private member's bill, Bill C-245, aimed to make three major changes: first, to remove the private-for-profit model; second, to prioritize indigenous and northern communities that we know have the greatest infrastructure gap in the country, particularly around climate-related projects; and third, to shift the governance model, requiring indigenous representation on the governance board.

I am very disappointed that both the Liberal and Conservative MPs voted against my private member's bill. I want to acknowledge the support of northern MPs from the Liberal side, the MP for the Northwest Territories and the MP for Yukon, and others who abstained, recognizing the desperate need for infrastructure investments in northern indigenous communities facing the climate crisis.

For all the Liberals who voted against Bill C-245, it is not wrong to admit to their mistakes. This is the legacy of Bill Morneau, who is long gone from the House. The model of the Canada Infrastructure Bank as it exists right now is not making a difference for Canadians. It is not bettering the lives of Canadians across our country.

For the Conservatives, who we know, with great fury, opposed the Canada Infrastructure Bank, it was telling that they refused to support Bill C-245, which sought to transform—

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 26th, 2023 / 11:35 a.m.
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Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I agree with him on many of those things. My background is in international development, and I will say that going to communities and going to provinces and telling them what they need is not a good practice. Municipalities should have the ability to have more control over the infrastructure projects.

We also, as the NDP, brought forward a supplementary response to the committee report that we are debating today. One thing that was brought up was that one of our colleagues has brought forward Bill C-245, an act to amend Canada's Infrastructure Bank. It looks at fixing some problems the member talked about like prioritizing projects in indigenous and northern communities, altering the structure of the board of the bank and removing the privatization aspects.

Would he be supportive of that sort of legislation?

May 8th, 2023 / 5:10 p.m.
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Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Just so we are clear, this also relates to timing. It's to make sure it's clear that this is not about Bill S-245 per se; it's more about the privilege piece. That's why this clarification needed to be made. It's also good for the witness to understand why he is coming to committee and for him to be clear that it's not so much about Bill S-245 as it is about this potential issue of privilege, so that he too is aware of why the committee is calling him. I think it's important to be fair to him so that when he comes he isn't blindsided by questions he wasn't expecting.

That's the reason I'm trying to clarify this. I think it's important that we are clear because, as has been said by others, it is a very significant issue. We need to get the best testimony we can so that, depending on where it goes past this committee, we have good information for those who will look at it afterwards to determine and make assessments about where this is going.

March 27th, 2023 / 4:10 p.m.
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Arielle Kayabaga Liberal London West, ON

I'm sorry, Senator. I really do have to ask one last question before my time is up.

I want to go back to a similar question that I had asked you earlier. This is just for clarification. Bill S-245 proposes to move the application date of the first-generation limit rule to 2015, making it so that anybody born abroad between 2009 and 2015 would automatically become citizens by descent, regardless of generation. It does seem incongruous that you don't want to expand the bill to a very small group of additional people impacted by the former section 8 provisions, yet you seem to have no issue with the fact that this bill would see an untold number of people born abroad between 2009 and 2015 acquire citizenship, even though they may not have a connection to Canada.

Could you explain this inconsistency, please?

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

June 22nd, 2022 / 4:15 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-245 under Private Members' Business.

The question is on the motion.

The House resumed from June 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-245, An Act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

An Act to Change the Name of the Electoral District of Châteauguay—LacollePrivate Members' Business

June 21st, 2022 / 5:40 p.m.
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Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit out of breath after running over here from the all-important operations committee.

I am pleased to rise on this private member's bill. I want to address all my comments to the bill itself. I am sure the member who presented it is a wonderful parliamentarian. I served with her on OGGO, but I have to say I am not a big fan of this bill. It is almost like it is “bad private members' bills” week. Earlier, I had to speak to Bill C-245, which was talking about bringing the $35 billion in the wasteful infrastructure bank over to be $35 billion to add to the wasteful infrastructure department.

I have to say that with this bill it is like “déjà vu all over again”, to quote Yogi Berra. I recall actually speaking to this bill about four years ago in the 42nd Parliament. I was not a fan of it then, and I am not a fan of it now. The big reason is that I have to wonder, of all the things going on in Quebec right now, or in Canada or around the world, if this is what we should be discussing in the House of Commons and taking up two hours of our time.

For example, I look at issues in Quebec right now. I think in the member's own riding we have an increase in problems at Roxham Road again. We have heard from the Government of Quebec of the incredible strain on its social services from these illegal or irregular crossings, however we wish to term them, but I think that is a bigger, more important issue we should perhaps be debating right now.

Of passports, we hear repeatedly in the House from across the country. In Edmonton, people are actually lining up at 12:30 in the morning to get passports, so that is not quite a day in advance, but it is the same problem in Quebec. We actually heard from Trois-Rivières that calls for help from citizens at the Trois-Rivières constituency office were increasing. They have been approaching decade highs daily for three weeks now. Why are we not talking about a private member's bill addressing that issue?

There is a labour shortage. I recall, actually now for several years, hearing about the labour shortage in Quebec. It is hurting productivity. It is hurting the economy of farmers, retail and aerospace. We cannot get workers in that province. Again, this is directed at the PMB. I would think it is a much more important issue we should be chatting about right now, as well as hurrying up the access to foreign workers.

Of course, there is inflation. It is 6.8%, and we will be hearing new inflation numbers tomorrow. My guess is that it is going to rocket past 7%. We hear in Quebec, again, about the shortage of bodies that is going to be driving wage inflation and making the inflation issue more troublesome. One would wonder if that is not a more important issue to be debating right now than a name change for a riding.

There are border issues and the ArriveCAN app, or “ArriveCAN'T” app, as we call it. This is a quote from the newspaper:

It's time to bid farewell to the ArriveCAN app, say border-city mayors, tourism industry leaders and others who complain Canada's stringent COVID-19 rules for international travellers are encouraging would-be U.S. visitors to spend their tourist dollars at home.

Estelle Muzzi, mayor of the Quebec border community of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, says that the rules are a drag on border crossings that are vital for the local economies. I think that mayor might actually be in the member's riding. Here we have the mayor saying she has issues with ArriveCAN and passports, and we have to wonder why we are talking about a riding change, especially right now.

With the redistributions, the ridings are going to change completely in Quebec, probably. My own riding is getting split into Edmonton West and Edmonton Winterburn. It would be strange for me to perhaps change the name of my riding right now to “Edmonton West Edmonton Mall” or “Edmonton Kanye West”, as I jokingly call it, knowing that in two years the riding was going to change to Edmonton Winterburn.

Again, we have a lot more important issues we can talk about. I want to give some examples of some PMBs that have come through the House recently from my Conservative colleagues that, perhaps, are better examples of how parliamentarians should be spending their time.

Bill C-296, which is from the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, is a PMB to amend the criminal code to find the person convicted of abduction, sexual assault and murder of the same victim in respect of the same event—

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2022 / 11:55 a.m.
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Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise today for the second time to proudly speak to my bill, Bill C-245, an act to amend Canada's Infrastructure Bank, with a plea.

Time is running out, and our communities need help. It is clear the climate emergency is here. Our region is already being hit hard. Yesterday, in Winnipeg, we saw record high temperatures. Over the last month, Peguis first nation has seen unprecedented flooding. First nations such as Tadoule Lake had winter storm warnings in June, and we are already experiencing extreme forest fires, which have caused extensive damage. In parts of Ontario and Quebec, tornados and severe storms have been wreaking havoc the last number of weeks.

The bill is rooted in this reality, the reality that communities on the front lines, particularly indigenous and northern communities, need action to survive climate change now. Since I tabled this legislation, I have heard from many indigenous and northern leaders across the country who have advocated tirelessly for federal support, support they have yet to receive. I have also heard from many who have reached out to the Canada Infrastructure Bank only to be rejected.

I have heard stories of first nations that were refused funding to upgrade a community hall in desperate need of fixing because they could not show the Canada Infrastructure Bank how it would be profitable, and of a northern community that was trying to switch off from diesel and were told to apply for solar panel funding without any recognition of the infrastructure needed to transition the community.

Communities do not need band-aids. They want to work with government to build infrastructure that mitigates and adapts to the increased precarious realities they face. Two first nations in our region, Poplar River and York Factory, have been left stranded in the last few weeks. It is clear they need all weather roads.

The government might show up to put a on band-aid for a short-term solution, but that is it, and we continue slowly and surely down a path, and we know where it ends. This is not how the federal government should be governing. Canadians deserve better. Communities at the forefront of the climate crisis deserve better. Time is running out and communities need our help.

Instead of getting that help, indigenous and northern leaders, and advocates can tune into this debate and hear the Liberals tell us that the Infrastructure Bank is doing great and that nothing needs to change. It is business as usual.

What we heard from the Liberals today on the bank is pure fiction. Communities know it. Canadians know it. The bank is a corporate welfare scheme. It is not doing the job the Liberals promised it would. Ironically, this week marks five years since the bank was founded. Five years later, the bank does not have a single success story to point to. It has given plenty of ammunition to those that were critical from the beginning, and it reinforces what many of us believe, which is that Liberals are more concerned with helping their wealthy friends than standing with Canadians.

In committees, in the House and in private meeting with Liberal MPs, I have consistently heard an acknowledgement that the bank is not what the government hoped for. We in the NDP have made serious propositions to fix it so it is there for the communities that need it most. We believe that public ownership is a critical tool in taking on the climate crisis. We believe that reconciliation ought to mean investing in critical infrastructure in indigenous and northern communities.

We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. When this historic agreement between the NDP and the Liberals was signed, there was talk about our shared principles on the environment and reconciliation. The Liberal opposition to our bill flies in the face of the spirit of that agreement. It used to be that the Liberals would steal good ideas from the CCF and the NDP. Now they cannot even see the value of a good idea in front of them.

The bill has unprecedented support, and for that I am thankful, from indigenous and northern leaders, climate activists, labour leaders, economists and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We need to wake up. The world is burning. Indigenous and northern communities are fighting to survive. We do not need the Liberal greenwashing.

Indigenous and northern leaders are fighting for a better future. We cannot miss the opportunity to create a livable future for the communities that are already on the front lines. I hope that members of Parliament will read the hundreds of letters they have received from constituents and communities on the front lines. Time is running out. Our communities need help. Bill C-245 is a step in that direction.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2022 / 11:50 a.m.
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Mike Morrice Green Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand this morning in support of Bill C-245, an act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act.

It is important to note that it was just over three years ago when parliamentarians in the chamber admitted that we are in a climate emergency. If it is an emergency, then we should probably act like it is one. In fact, that is what international climate scientists called for in their most recent report from April. The co-chair of an IPCC working group said, “It's now or never, if we want to limit warming to 1.5°C”. That is the internationally agreed upon maximum to ensure that we are taking action at the pace that science tells us is required.

One way to do that is to take existing Crown corporations and direct their resources toward solving the climate crisis we are in. That is why I support Bill C-245, along with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, and that is why I really appreciate the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski bringing this legislation forward as her private member's bill. The bill recognizes that communities are at the forefront of the climate crisis and, as such, it would shift the priorities of the Canada Infrastructure Bank to be explicit about supporting climate adaption and mitigation efforts. The bill would do this in three ways: one would be to remove the parts of the Infrastructure Bank's mandate that allow it to seek out private investments; two would be to increase the transparency of the bank by requiring regular reporting to Parliament; and three would be to ensure that first nations, Inuit and Métis communities have a seat at the table on the board.

As it stands today, the Canada Infrastructure Bank was established back in 2017 as arm's length from government, with a budget of $35 billion. What an opportunity that is. Last year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that it would not even spend half of that amount over the next 11 years. What a wonderful way to activate those funds if we are going to follow through.

As other speakers have mentioned, communities across the country are calling out for more. Municipalities are taking a leadership role, and Waterloo region is one example of that, but if communities across the country are going to follow through at the pace that science requires, they are going to need the federal government to step up. I recognize that the Canada Infrastructure Bank, as it stands today, requires projects to generate revenue, meaning they have to charge public user fees or tolls, directly or indirectly, to meet the needs of private investors. Instead, if approved, this bill would redirect those tens of billions of dollars toward the infrastructure projects we need, whether it is helping communities move off of diesel or moving to high-speech rail, the list goes on and on.

One person I respect on this topic is Seth Klein. He has said that we should think about urgency of the climate crisis the same way that we might have thought in the past about wartime efforts. I would like to share a quote from Mr. Klein, who said, “But in response to the climate emergency, we have seen nothing of this sort. In contrast to C.D. Howe’s wartime creations, the [Liberal] government has established two new Crown corporations during its time in office — the Canada Infrastructure Bank (a vehicle for privatizing infrastructure that has thus far accomplished very little), and the Trans Mountain Corporation (an ill-advised decision that makes all Canadians the owners of a 60-year-old oil pipeline). If our government really saw the climate emergency as an emergency, it would quickly conduct an inventory of our conversion needs to determine how many heat pumps, solar arrays, wind farms, electric buses, etc. we will need to electrify virtually everything and end our reliance on fossil fuels. Then, it would establish a new generation of Crown corporations to ensure those items are manufactured and deployed at the requisite scale.”

I invite members to think of the jobs we could create in this transition, and they would be good, unionized, well-paying jobs to transition our economy to that of the future. When I reflect on Mr. Klein's words and look at what is in this bill, that is what excites me about this.

Bill C-245 would be one step along a long journey, not only aligned with Mr. Klein's vision, but also with that of climate scientists, who are telling us that this is required and that action is not in eight years. It is certainly not thinking about net zero by 2050. The action is required now, and there are bills before the House, such as Bill C-245, which would equip us to do it.

That is the most important thing. It is not what one party or another is bickering about with each other. It is not about partisanship at all. Future generations will judge us and what we did in this chamber, and whether we collectively acted at the pace scientists tell us is required, rather than giving billions of dollars in new subsidies to fossil fuels, and invested it in the infrastructure we needed.

The bill is one we should all embrace, and I am proud to support it.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2022 / 11:30 a.m.
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Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak to Bill C-245, an act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act. I want to thank the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski for bringing this bill forward. I am very proud to stand in the House to speak in support of it.

The bill looks at something that is fundamentally important. It would take the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act and change it to focus on things that matter. The thing that matters most right now in this country is addressing the realities of climate change.

It is on the record since 2016 that I am not in support of the Infrastructure Bank. I am tired of seeing public money going to support private infrastructure and making the wealth of those few grow while the rest of us struggle. To me, it just makes sense that we have profound support and input into public ownership of public infrastructure, especially as we take on the crisis of climate change. If we are going to be serious about addressing this issue, we need to look at how we are going to adapt and respond in local communities, and make sure that those areas are recognized. We do not see that happening in this country right now under the leadership of the Liberals.

I come from a large rural riding, and one of the biggest challenges is transportation. A lot of people in my communities have to take one or two ferries and drive a long distance to get to the health care supports they need. There is very little support for bus services or for looking at how we are going to get people from one place to another in a safe and affordable way. This continues to be a massive concern and one that this bill addresses. This bill looks at the reality that more needs to be done, and it looks at taking the priorities of the Infrastructure Bank and supporting communities.

In the last Parliament, I put forward Motion No. 53. That motion talked about the fact that we are not seeing enough sustainable funding and resources going to smaller communities across the country to respond to the changes that we are seeing in the climate.

We are also not seeing funding to support adaptation to, and mitigation of, what is happening in the climate, or to address the issue of making sure there is sustainable employment in our areas. We need to have the climate addressed by local solutions. The people in communities and regions know what they know, and what they know often works. My motion, similar to this bill, also brought forward the idea of making sure that at every step, we acknowledge and recognize UNDRIP and look at following the leadership of indigenous communities across the country. We need the voices of rural and remote communities, and of indigenous communities, to actually be heard because they are on the front lines. As we look at what is happening in our country, we see that they are on the front lines of climate change and its impacts.

I live in B.C. Our region is seeing the impacts of climate change significantly. Last year, we saw heat domes that killed so many because we were not prepared for that level of heat in our region. We saw excessive and extreme flooding that wiped out whole highways and made areas inaccessible. We actually had to have the military fly in and take out people who were stranded in their vehicles. They could not get out because those areas were completely destroyed. We have seen forest fires eliminate a whole community and threaten so many more. This is the new reality that we are living in today, and it concerns me greatly because it is expensive and it is threatening our way of life.

What is frustrating to me as well is the fact that we are not seeing the level of action that we need to see from the current government. For the past six years, the Prime Minister has pretended to care about the climate crisis, but at the same time his government has looked at raising subsidies for oil companies. They are higher now than they were under former Prime Minister Harper. Over $4.5 billion in public money was used to buy a pipeline, and we do not even know where that is going to end.

Canada has the most GHG emissions per capita in the G7. Greenhouse gases emitted by the government have increased by 11%, and Canada is the only G7 country where GHG emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement: so much for our Prime Minister standing in that place saying that Canada is back. We are not back. We are not doing what we need to do to invest in a future that is safer for our children, and we are not investing in a future that leads us to opportunity for business and growth, because the future will be dealing with the climate. We have already pushed things that far.

It is time for action. It is time for a vision, and this bill addresses these very important issues. We need solutions that focus on growing and sustaining the wealth of everyday Canadians and not just the top 1%. One part I spoke of earlier that is so pivotal to this bill is following the leadership of indigenous communities in this country.

The first people of this country need to be at every single table, and this bill would assure that this is the reality. We need to listen to those voices, we need to listen to traditional knowledge and we need to accept that there is a long history of awareness in regions all over Canada that only indigenous voices can bring to the table.

We also have to acknowledge that, when it comes to adapting to climate change, indigenous communities are largely underfunded for basic infrastructure. I think of the Dzawada'enuxw in my riding up in Kingcome. It is a very remote community. They have been facing immense flooding from the river for multiple years, and they have been very clear that they need an access road so they can get to the ocean in case the community floods, as it has. I want members to understand that they have been building their houses up every year to address the fact that their whole community is being flooded, and all they need is a road so that a boat can come to get them. Right now, their only solution is to stand and wait for a helicopter to land on a pad, which means only a few people can be taken out at a time. This leads to higher risk, and we do not see any support in that. Exactly what this bill would say is that we need to address these issues.

I live in, work in and serve communities that are small, rural and indigenous, and I will tell members that the leaders of those communities are often working very hard with their staff to write the proposals and do the work that needs to be done so they can get the support they need. Often, when they are trying to find the resources to do those key things they do not have them, and the complex processes do not acknowledge the different sizes of communities.

This bill really would open the door for these communities to have a voice. We know there is $35 billion in the Canada Infrastructure Bank. This is so important, because we need to start addressing these really important issues.

I think I will end there. All I can say is that this bill would make a difference for communities trying their best to adapt to a climate that is going to win. If we do not take action soon, we are going to see devastation, and all of us will have to take a part of that responsibility.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2022 / 11:20 a.m.
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Jean-Denis Garon Bloc Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to see you today, as always, and it is very interesting to debate Bill C-245 and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

The bank is a newly designed institution. It has only been around for a few years and, even though it is still in its infancy, there is already talk about a lack of transparency and changes to the management approach and the board of directors. This institution has hardly been around for any time at all and we are already talking about the many problems with it.

The Bloc Québécois's position has always been clear. This bank never should never have existed, for the very simple reason that we did not need it. To date, the bank has basically been a failure, not because it did not fund any projects, but because it failed to do its job properly and to ensure that projects were carried out. To understand why the bank makes no sense, we need to look back at the past.

Let us go back to 2015. The current Prime Minister was on the campaign trail. He said that there was an economic slowdown and that we had to invest, in particular in infrastructure, since it was urgent that we help Quebec, the provinces and municipalities.

When things are urgent, the thing to do is to sit down with partners and finance projects. However, the government’s Liberal reflexes took over. It decided that, instead of taking action, it would waste time: It would create a new institution with various layers of public servants and invest in a big machine in Ottawa instead of delivering for Canadians.

That was what it announced in the 2015 electoral campaign and again in 2016. In 2017, the bank was legislated into being. However, it was still not in operation, and it was finally up and running when the economy was no longer in a slowdown.

So far, they have not learned from their mistakes. Since then, we have had a pandemic and another slowdown. The bank has not changed since then, and has not met its objectives. The government is once again behind in its projects. This is an example of poor service delivery and an inappropriate investment vehicle.

With his banker’s mentality, the finance minister at the time, Mr. Morneau, said that taxpayers would benefit. He said that the bank would drive job creation and economic development and that, for every dollar invested by taxpayers, it would draw four, five or six dollars in investments from the private sector. It was supposed to be a windfall.

Finally, nothing much happened, except for a few small projects that could very well have been financed more quickly using other methods, such as bilateral agreements.

If we look at the three-year growth plan of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, we can see that, by 2028, $2.5 billion will be invested in clean energy. We have a list of emergencies. At the same time, the Liberals tabled a budget in which they plan to invest—surprise, surprise—$2.5 billion a year, and not by 2028, in dirty energy. They are investing $2.5 billion in clean energy through the Canada Infrastructure Bank with their right hand and doing five times worse with their left.

That is what we call an inconsistent government. The Liberals are investing $1 in clean energy and $5 in dirty energy, and then they will tour the country this summer saying that oil is green. That is our federal government for you. They are investing $2.5 billion in broadband connectivity projects. The digital transition should have accelerated during the pandemic but, because we were wasting time with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, we were unable to speed up the process.

They are also investing $2 billion in building upgrades. These projects are closest to those on the ground, closest to the people, while the federal government is the level of government farthest from the people. The government thinks it is smart to invest like that.

There were a few good projects. I know that the hon. member for Winnipeg North will be talking about zero-emission vehicles. There were also good projects in Ontario, but that is not enough.

Here is what the Liberals did: They made a list of emergencies and created a huge bank. After years of wasting time, the projects were not carried out in time. However, the Liberals told us that they were urgent. Today, when we look at the institution’s performance, we can see that all of this was so urgent that they did not meet their commitments. That is exactly what happened with the bank.

No one can ask us to like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, because we like our people, we like Quebec, we like our infrastructure projects and we like our economy. That is why we do not like the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Today, we are in a situation where they will try to meet their targets. They have money to spend and they have to meet their targets. They are looking for projects, because there are not enough of them.

I will give the same example as the Liberal member just gave, namely the famed high-frequency rail line between Quebec City and Windsor. This is not a high-speed train. It is a bad project. Everyone wants a high-speed train, but everyone is resigned to never getting anything from the federal government. We will therefore get a tortoise that passes by twice as often and we will be told that it is a great project.

The project, which is supported by the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will prove to be a bad risk for taxpayers and a good risk for the private sector. The project’s sponsor, VIA Rail, has decided that we should privatize the public infrastructure in the profitable corridor. However, the key mission of the government, that is to say, projects that provide a public return, will be paid for by taxpayers. They will privatize the good part and leave the bad part for the taxpayers.

Things are so bad that, in the last budget, the Liberals had to set aside $400 million in public funding for the project. We asked public servants what was going to happen with the $400 million and they said it would be used to find partners for the train project. I do not know of any functioning bank that has so few projects or friends, or that operates so poorly that it has to invest that kind of money to find partners. When you have to spend $400 million to find friends, maybe you need to change the way you do things.

The same is true for the REM light rail project. It did not need the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Normally, this would have been a Quebec government project. Investissement Québec would have bought shares, and the federal government would have helped. It would have been done quickly and properly, in a bilateral manner. We have a loan for the REM here, but this could have been done more efficiently without the new layer of administration in the federal government.

That is quite the bank we have. It is slow and does not meet its objectives. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the Bank of Canada would likely never be able to disburse the $35 billion it has to spend by 2028. There is now a $19-billion discrepancy. This is $19 billion for emergencies, according to the Liberals, that will never be used to meet the needs on the ground for the people who really need infrastructure. The bank does not work.

Now, if we are going to have a bad bank, we might as well improve the way it operates. That is why Bill C-245 is interesting. There is a lack of transparency in the management of these funds and in the reporting to the House. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the Canada Infrastructure Bank did not provide information or respond when his office tried to evaluate its performance, on the grounds that it was keeping trade secrets confidential. The bank is becoming like Export Development Canada, which is one of the major funders of oil projects in Canada and which also hides behind supposed trade secrets.

Another positive aspect of the bill is that it requires that the board of directors include indigenous and Inuit members. The idea behind this is that we are our own best advocates. This proves that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is not listening to people on the ground, and that is the least of it. I would be surprised if the Liberals did not support this bill for that reason.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank was supposed to be a miracle. My grandfather, and I am sure many others, used to say that if something looks too good to be true, it likely is neither good nor true.

The federal government is capable of meddling in Quebec's affairs. It has been no better at delivering infrastructure through its Canada Infrastructure Bank than at managing passports, airport services, unconditional health transfers or the temporary foreign worker program, as Quebec and the provinces have been calling for.

This is a reminder that Quebec must be in charge of its infrastructure projects, that the federal government needs to be smaller and that it needs to provide the money to Quebec and the provinces.

As Quebec's national holiday approaches, I want to take this opportunity to remind members how important it is for Quebec to have all of its revenue and resources and that it be the master of its own destiny. This bank serves as a reminder that Quebec must be free. Vive le Québec libre.

Canada Infrastructure Bank ActPrivate Members' Business

June 20th, 2022 / 11:10 a.m.
See context


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on Bill C-245, especially after about three hours of sleep due to a late flight. Thanks Air Canada. I wish we were debating something about Air Canada. I am in the mood for that right now.

Bill C-245 would nominally change Canada's failed Infrastructure Bank from a colossal, failed boondoggle that is wasting taxpayers' money to a potentially massive failure that is also wasting taxpayers' money but in a different way and under different leadership.

Bill C-245 wants to change infrastructure investment to something that is in the public interest and relates to climate change mitigation or adaptation, except we already basically have a department for that. It is called Infrastructure Canada. The idea is that we are going to take $35 billion from the failed Infrastructure Bank, move it from one failed institution and hand it over to another poorly led institution.

It reminds me a bit of the even-steven Seinfeld episode where Jerry Seinfeld always ends up even at the end of the day. He gains a friend and loses a friend. He takes $20 out of his pocket and throws it out the window, then grabs a jacket and finds $20. That is all this is. We are shuffling things from one failed department to another failed department.

We have immense problems at Infrastructure Canada. The old PBO, Jean-Denis Fréchette, who is retired now and beekeeping, and I wish him well, noted often that billions could not be found from infrastructure spending. The 2018 PBO report showed the federal government was able to reduce its deficit in 2018, which is shocking, I know. It is almost heresy for the government. However, that was only because it did not spend the infrastructure money that was set aside.

I want to read a quote from the PBO report:

The PBO has published 4 reports regarding [Infrastructure Canada]. Our previous findings indicated that data gaps existed in the tracking of federal money; planned spending lagged; job creation and economic growth was lower than anticipated; and, increases in federal spending were partly offset by decreases in provincial money.

There is limited evidence that increased federal money resulted in increased provincial spending (while federal...transfers increased by $1 billion...overall provincial [transfers] decreased by $733 million).

The Senate did a report on infrastructure spending, and it said that the only measurement for success for all this spending on infrastructure was not actual results. It was not whether it actually helped the economy. Was it whether it helped the environment? No. Was it about productivity improvements? No. The only measurement of success the Senate was able to find for Infrastructure Canada was whether dollars were spent. This bill wants another $35 billion spent by the same people, who just want to spend the money, and the only metric of success is spending the money, not achieving results.

This is right from GC InfoBase on the Treasury Board's website on results: In 2021, Infrastructure Canada only achieved 25% of its goals for 2020-21. If we think about that, this bill wants to add $35 billion more to Infrastructure Canada to not achieve targets.

I have some of the missed targets for Infrastructure Canada. Again, this is right from the government's website, GC InfoBase. It missed out on the value of infrastructure spending. It failed to achieve its goal on projects that it was committed to. Here is a good one: It failed in its goal on changes in GDP, or increases in GDP attributed to spending. Again, what is the point of spending all this money when it is failing on its goals? Now it wants to add another $35 billion.

There is another good one, and the NDP should be interested, especially given where the riding of the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski is. The Liberals failed on the percentage spent toward clean drinking water and percentage spent on improving transit. Again, these failures from the government and failures on infrastructure are certainly telling us we should not be moving money from this failed boondoggle to another group that shows it can fail quite spectacularly. There is another good one: The Liberals actually failed on their projects for reducing GHG emissions.

That is Infrastructure Canada. Let us move on to the other half of our Laurel and Hardy pairing, the Infrastructure Bank. The Infrastructure Bank, when we look at it, is certainly in the competition for the most inept government department.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank has a lot of competition for this top ranking, including of course PSPC, Public Services and Procurement Canada, which has managed to bungle the jet fighter procurement and the ship procurement. We found out about its buying 100 million dollars' worth of vaccines that went to waste.

Another runner-up is, again, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on Phoenix. It has been six and a half years since the Liberals pushed the start button on Phoenix and we are still dealing with that.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank is in a tight race for the most incompetent with the CRA. Of course, this was before it started taking people three hours to finally get through to a CRA agent only to have the agent hang up on them. During the pandemic, the CRA managed to send CERB cheques to dead people and send cheques overseas.

Of course, recently, number one or number two would be Global Affairs. Despite Russia committing genocide, murdering children and women and targeting civilians, Global Affairs sent a top official to the Russian embassy tea party last week.

Service Canada, of course, wants to be recognized for its incompetence with respect to passports. We gave it months of notice. I rose in this same seat several months ago with respect to the complaints. The health minister got up and commented on how hard the staff were working. We found out that two-thirds of them are still sitting at home. They may be working from home, but probably not as efficiently as is needed to get passports to Canadians.

Rounding that out with another competitor, we have CATSA through Transport Canada, which ironically oversees the Canada Infrastructure Bank. With respect to the results of its departmental plan, through the public accounts we found out that one-quarter of CATSA funding for screeners had lapsed. It kept all the bureaucrats working, but not the screeners, the ones who are hired on contract to take a look at and screen the luggage that goes through, a vitally important cog in the scheme of airports. Twenty-five per cent of that lapsed, even though in January, February and March, the final three months of the fiscal year, the department produced numbers that very clearly showed that the number of Canadians being screened was growing exponentially. I think at one point it was within 70% of prepandemic numbers, but the department let the money lapse and let the screeners stay at home. Then we found out, just last week, that the department was unprepared for the increase. It had actually released its own numbers showing exponential growth in air travel, but it was caught unawares.

Apparently, the government was also caught unawares with respect to Service Canada and passports. Who would have known 10 years ago that a 10-year passport would be expiring at this time? I certainly would not have expected a 10-year passport to expire in 10 years. Who would have possibly known that we would see an increase in travel with the pandemic? The government said it was caught off guard.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank, knowing it had tough competition, doubled down for the goal of most incompetent government department. It has been over five years and it does not have a single project built. One more year, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank will be eligible for an MP pension. Like most MPs, it also has not done much in five years. There has been $35 billion into the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and nothing has been completed. One year it actually spent more money on termination benefits for executives than on salaries in its own department. The Canada Infrastructure Bank was set up to guarantee decent returns for large for-profit companies and investment firms, not to look after Canadian taxpayers. Those companies would be guaranteed profits, while the taxpayers would be guaranteed any risks or losses.

The main project the Canada Infrastructure Bank is so proud of, the urban rail project in Montreal, has been a disaster, which is no surprise. People do not want it. The actual construction does not look at all like the design. The cost has been $7 billion and growing, and this is its best product.

I understand the intent of the bill, but I have to say it is rather silly to take money from one failed government department to give it to another failed government department. Therefore, I will not be supporting it.

The House resumed from April 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-245, An Act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.