Okay, I have it.
As we know, the infrastructure program, which is the Building Canada fund, is expiring in 2014. Municipalities have been saying that they need long-term, predictable funding and that they want to make sure that a new program be in place or announced before the next construction season, which for municipalities would be the fall of 2013.
We will need some kind of new program. The government would need to present that probably by March or April of the coming year, which is why the subcommittee thought it would be timely for us to look at infrastructure programs and what kind of infrastructure program it would be.
As you may recall, at the beginning of this committee, immediately after the election, we said we would study public transit, and then emerging technologies. Infrastructure was the third area that we would study. At the subcommittee, Mr. Poilievre came up with a motion dealing with competitions and what kinds of ways we could fund infrastructure better by using more bidders, different methodologies, and more competitions.
Prior to that, I circulated a policy document that talked about different ways.... I'll give you an example. In Germany, local roads and transit are subsidized through surplus revenues of fuel duty. In our case it would be a gas tax. Already 5¢ of it goes to it. They have an act on federal government aid to improve transport at the local authority level. The prerequisites for funding are the urgency of it; having transport plans, so there has to be a plan; and evidence of remaining finance being secured. That's one way that Germany deals with their infrastructure needs.
In the United States they have something called a competitive grants program. It's through both a formula and through discretionary grants. That's through the Federal Transit Administration.
There are other kinds; there's an infrastructure bank on which the federal government acts as a guarantor of debts for municipalities to assist in raising revenues for infrastructure projects. Is that a good route to go? I'm not sure. It could mean that some small municipalities would end up borrowing, and is that a good way to go, if we guaranteed debt for them?
There are other, more traditional approaches that Canada has already been using, which are the federal-provincial-municipal agreements. What kind of agreements should there be? How complex should they be? We need to cut red tape, but we also want to make sure there is value for money in how we spend taxpayers' dollars.
There are other kinds of tax. There's the sales tax, which you give the municipality the power to do, which may or may not apply to Canada.
In Australia the properties that directly benefit from new and renewed infrastructure have to contribute to reduce cost. It's called reinvest value capture. That's another methodology.
We do the infrastructure, but are there other forms of getting the private sector to pay for the infrastructure? Mr. Poilievre talked about the possibility of having the private sector come in, in a bigger way. There are examples out there, as I said, in Australia.
My motion is to study what other countries are doing and come up with a report that would assist the transport and infrastructure minister to have a program that would meet the infrastructure needs of municipalities, cities, and communities.