Thank you very much.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
I would like to introduce my two colleagues. Bogdan Makuc is the director of program operations within the program operations branch, and Mohamed Nouhi is the principal adviser in the policy and communications branch.
In the context of this committee's study of urban conservation practices in Canada, I'd like to use my opening remarks to provide you with a brief overview of Infrastructure Canada and its activities. Before that, it would be helpful to provide a bit of context.
The vast majority of Canada's public infrastructure—in fact, well over 90%—is owned not by the federal government, but by provinces, territories, and municipalities. This includes key infrastructure such as highways, local roads and bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure, and public transit systems.
Recognizing the essential role played by public infrastructure in supporting economic competitiveness, a cleaner environment, and strong communities, the federal government provides funding support to provinces, territories, and municipalities to help them finance their infrastructure investments. I would note that this funding has grown significantly over the last decade.
The Infrastructure Canada department was established in 2002 and uses the suite of available infrastructure programs and leads the government efforts in this particular funding area. We have two types of broad categories of programs. There are base funding initiatives and targeted programs.
The base funding initiatives are designed to support provincial, territorial, and local infrastructure priorities. The largest initiative in this category is the gas tax fund, which provides $2 billion per year in stable, predictable funding to municipalities for environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure.
Following budget 2011, this funding was legislated and made permanent. While the federal government determines which categories of projects are eligible under the gas tax fund, the specific projects are chosen locally and prioritized according to the infrastructure needs of each community that is asking for access to that funding.
Our targeted programs are designed to support both large- and small-scale projects that are national, regional, or local in significance. Federal funding is provided on a cost-shared basis in order to leverage additional funding from partners.
In that category, our largest targeted fund is the $8.8-billion Building Canada fund, which is the flagship infrastructure program of the government. The Building Canada fund is largely delivered through two components. One is the major infrastructure component, which focuses on larger, more complex infrastructure projects of national or regional significance, and then there's a communities component, which supports projects in communities with populations of less than 100,000.
A total of 17 investment categories are eligible for the Building Canada Fund, but the vast majority of projects proposed by the provinces and municipalities—and funded by Infrastructure Canada—are in the areas of transportation, water and wastewater treatment and public transit.
Projects funded under the Major Infrastructure Component are chosen jointly through discussions with each province. Almost all of that component's funds have now been committed to projects, and on-going discussions are being held for the remaining funds.
Projects under the Communities Component were chosen through a competitive process based on applications for funding and are managed jointly with the provinces. The majority of this component's funding has already been allocated.
Targeted funding is also allocated through the Green Infrastructure Fund, which is a merit-based program with the goal of contributing to cleaner air, cleaner water and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. All of the funding under this program has already been allocated.
Environmental sustainability has been encouraged through Infrastructure Canada's targeted programs in two ways.
The first is through funding support for projects that provide direct environmental benefits, which we refer to as green infrastructure such as wastewater treatment, solid waste management, brownfield redevelopment, and green energy, which also includes community district energy systems. The largest proportion of this funding, which is approximately $1.8 billion, has been committed to over 1,200 waste water infrastructure projects.
The second way that Infrastructure Canada has encouraged environmental sustainability is through program funding criteria, which encourage or require projects to meet certain standards.
But irrespective of our programs, I would like to finish by emphasizing the following points.
Our funding programs outline eligibility parameters for projects. However, within those parameters, our partners have a great deal of flexibility to prioritize investments to meet their particular infrastructure needs. So our role is limited to being a provider of funding and, thus, we do not own or manage any of the infrastructure projects we fund. That particular role is filled by our partners, which are mainly provinces, territories, and municipalities. As a result, it is they that are responsible for undertaking key activities such as project planning, procurement, and prioritization.
Our funding is meant to help cover the capital costs of building new infrastructure assets and refurbishing existing ones, and we do not fund operating costs. Our programs are designed to assist—I mentioned cost sharing—provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure projects. As such, we do not support federal assets.
That's an overview. Thank you for your time, and we would be happy to answer any questions.