Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
It's a pleasure to be back, and thank you for inviting me to appear today. I'm pleased to be here to provide you with an update on the transportation, infrastructure and communities portfolio.
I'll be sharing my time with Minister Merrifield, who has some very specific comments about the areas under his responsibility.
With me today are Yaprak Baltacioglu, the deputy minister of transport, infrastructure and communities, and John Forster, associate deputy minister of infrastructure. We have other officials in the room as necessary.
Committee members, the last time we were here was in October. I presented you with an overview of the portfolio.
Committee members, the last time we were here, in October, we presented you with an overview of the portfolio.
I gave you my thoughts on the transportation sector's role in the Canadian economy and the effects infrastructure investments have had on communities across Canada, as well as our partnerships with the provinces, territories, and municipalities. I also raised the issue of ongoing security threats and spoke about the importance we place on relationships with international trading partners.
Today I'd like to provide you with an update on these issues from both the transportation and infrastructure perspectives, as well as to speak to what the future may hold, and then to entertain your questions, of course.
On infrastructure progress, in my last appearance I talked about the funds that Infrastructure Canada manages under the economic action plan. There is the $4 billion in the infrastructure stimulus fund, the $1 billion in the green infrastructure fund, the $500 million top-up to the communities component of the Building Canada fund, and the $25 million for the National Trails Coalition. We also accelerated and streamlined existing funds under the $33 Building Canada fund, our flagship program, so that partners could take advantage of these investments sooner than originally scheduled. Since the introduction of the economic action plan, about $10.7 billion has been committed through Infrastructure Canada's programs toward approximately 6,200 projects. Along with the contributions from our partners, such as provinces, territories, and municipalities, this represents a total investment of over $30 billion.
As you know, last Thursday the Prime Minister announced a seven-month extension, to October 31, 2011, to deadlines for projects funded under four infrastructure programs, including the infrastructure stimulus fund and the communities component top-up. This gives an additional seven months to project proponents across the country that may need extra time to see their projects through to completion.
As you know, last Thursday the Prime Minister announced an extension, to October 31, 2011, to the deadlines for projects funded under four infrastructure programs, including the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund and the remainder of the Communities Component Top-Up. This gives an additional seven months to project proponents across the country who need the extra time.
The vast majority of projects are on target to be built by March 31, 2011. The extension is a fair and reasonable approach that will allow the remaining projects to cross the finish line successfully, and while Canada has emerged from the recession as the strongest G-7 country, the global recovery is so fragile, and this extension is a responsible way to help continue to stimulate the economy without resulting in extra costs for taxpayers. This is certainly good for the country and it is good for the economy, and it ensures that Canada will return to balanced budgets while still completing worthwhile projects.
While Canada has emerged from the recession as the strongest G7 country, the global recovery is still fragile. This extension is a responsible way to help continue to stimulate the economy, without resulting in extra costs for taxpayers. This is certainly good for the country and good for the economy. It ensures that Canada will return to balanced budgets, while still completing worthwhile projects.
Mr. Chair, you see from the supplementary estimates (B) for Infrastructure Canada that we are looking to reprofile funds from 2009-10 to 2010-11 under a number of our programs. This is done to accommodate the funding needs of our partners.
This is an important point that we may get into during the question and answer period. Under the past programs that pre-date our government, and the current contribution agreements that we've signed, funding flows to our partners once they submit claims for work that's been completed. For many projects, work may be well under way or even completed before we receive even the first claim for money and before we can pay any bills. The reprofiling of funds ensures that the necessary resources are available to reimburse costs for projects the government had already committed to support when the claims were submitted. In other words, the economic activity starts, people are hired, the contracts are let, all sorts of action happens out in the field, but we can't pay the bills until they're submitted to us. This continues, and that's the reason for this reprofiling. It goes on virtually every year in Infrastructure Canada, and it will continue this year.
As we move forward in delivering the short-term funds under the economic action plan, we continue to deliver long-term funding under the $33 billion Building Canada plan, which includes the gas tax fund. This fund doubled to $2 billion per year in 2009. That's $2 billion per year going to municipalities, big and small, right across the country for their infrastructure projects. Through Budget 2008, we announced that the gas tax will become permanent after 2014. This is funding that municipalities can rely on and use when they need it—they can use it immediately, or they can bank it and use it further down the road.
Let me turn to Transport Canada. We continue building a safe, secure, sustainable, and efficient transportation system in Canada. While time doesn't permit a detailed discussion of all initiatives, let me highlight just a few. First, there is the action our government is taking to protect our civil aviation system. We know civil aviation remains a target for terrorists and recent attempts on international airlines stress the need to remain vigilant. Our government continues to make significant changes to Canada's aviation security system, including the introduction of full-body scanners at Canadian airports, the development of a passenger behaviour observation program, and the development of aviation security plans at Canada's major airports to assist their security readiness and make changes where needed.
We've also taken action with respect to air cargo security, investing $95.7 million over five years in the air cargo security program. This program will strengthen air cargo screening and the security of the supply chain. We'll continue this focus on the security of all of our airlines. We invest in safety and security because it's our first priority. At the same time, we continue to invest in transportation infrastructure that will create jobs and boost the economy, particularly at this time of economic challenge.
Turning to Canada's ports, I can tell you they are a cornerstone of our gateway and corridor initiatives. I think this is where some of our best successes are and where we can point to some of our most productive partnerships in our gateway and corridor initiatives. As part of Canada's economic action plan, our government has announced close to $104 million under the infrastructure stimulus fund for 30 projects at ports managed by Canadian port authorities.
As part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, our government has announced close to $104 million under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund for 30 projects at ports managed by Canadian Port Authorities.
Examples include $20.6 million for Port Metro Vancouver to make upgrades to the port's infrastructure and $15.3 million for work at the Port Authority of Montreal. These investments and others are making Canada more competitive at home and abroad and are helping to advance our government's gateway and corridor initiative.
As trade volumes exceed their pre-recession levels, Canada's ports and other supply chain partners have positioned us to capture the economic benefits to be had from international commerce.
These investments are making Canada more competitive at home and abroad, and helping to advance our Gateways and Corridors Strategy.
As trade volumes increase past their pre-recession levels, Canada's ports and other supply chain partners have positioned us ahead of our competitors to capture the economic benefits from international commerce.
In particular, we've made great strides with our Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative, having announced over $3.5 billion worth of projects since our launch in 2006, leveraged from federal contributions of some $1.4 billion. So that's been a tremendous success.
However, we can't be complacent in our success, and we must address the efficiency, reliability, and security of the supply chain if we are to remain competitive globally.
We'll also examine the lessons we learned from the Pacific gateway and apply them to initiatives such as the Atlantic gateway and our Ontario-Quebec continental gateway.
A key element in our gateways and corridors strategy is the Detroit River international crossing. It's the most important bridge project in North America's history, given that cross-border traffic at Windsor and Detroit represents 30% of all Canada-United States trade. We are determined to get that bridge built, and we remain committed to the project. As such, we pledged a maximum of $550 million for project components in Michigan. That being said, our financial participation is subject to the Michigan legislature's adopting all of the authorizing legislation for the bridge project.
Now, unfortunately, the Michigan Senate adjourned without bringing the DRIC authorizing legislation to a vote during their recent lame-duck session. I have spoken with Governor-elect Rick Snyder and have secured his commitment to make this a priority and to work together to obtain the necessary legislative approvals in Michigan.
In the upcoming year, we will continue working closely with the State of Michigan and the U.S. federal government to get that bridge built. It remains, obviously, arguably, the most important infrastructure project on the books for Canada. That bridge is a necessity for increased commercial traffic over the next number of years. We're determined to work with our partners in the United States, both federally and at the state level, to make that happen.
Minister Merrifield has some concluding remarks.