Evidence of meeting #63 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was projects.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Alain Desruisseaux  Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Office of Infrastructure of Canada
Greg Carreau  Director, Water and Air Quality Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health
Laura Di Paolo  Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada
Véronique Morisset  Manager, Water Quality Program Division, Water and Air Quality Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

11:20 a.m.

Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Laura Di Paolo

I do not have the yearly numbers, but—

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Could you give me an idea?

11:20 a.m.

Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Laura Di Paolo

As my colleague said earlier, from 2002 to date, we have funded more than 6,000 projects across the country, amounting to $3.5 billion. Just recently, we got the figures for drinking water programs, which were funded in phase 1 of our new plan. We have funded 805 projects in the last 18 months, totalling $966 million.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Would it be completely wrong to set an average, or are projects of more or less the same value ?

11:20 a.m.

Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Laura Di Paolo

No, they are not.

In fact, there are a variety of projects. We may fund the installation of pipes as well as the entire construction of a water treatment plant.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

So what would be the smallest and biggest project in terms of costs? Is it a few hundred or a few tens of thousands of dollars?

11:20 a.m.

Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Laura Di Paolo

It can range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

There are no projects that cost hundreds of millions of dollars?

11:20 a.m.

Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Laura Di Paolo

I'll have to check that, but the cost of water treatment plant projects is typically between $5 million and $25 million.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

In phase 2 of the federal infrastructure plan, will there be specific funding earmarked for this issue, or are related projects eligible, as was previously the case?

11:20 a.m.

Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Laura Di Paolo

Yes, there is funding. Municipalities and provinces are still being asked to prioritize their projects. Funding is available, but it is clear that there is an environmental quality component to fund this type of project.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

On a number of occasions, cities like Ottawa and Hamilton have supported their residents financially and modernized their lead pipes through interest-free loan programs, for example. Is this an avenue that the federal government might consider, whether by providing interest-free loans or tax deductions that would allow citizens to absorb some of the costs, which are fairly significant?

11:20 a.m.

Director General, Program Integration, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Laura Di Paolo

On our side, I think these programs are very good and can have a big impact, as Mr. Bratina said. However, public infrastructure falls under the federal mandate. That would go beyond our mandate.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Do you want to add something, Mr. Desruisseaux?

11:20 a.m.

Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Alain Desruisseaux

I would like to add that the partnership we have established with the provinces and municipalities is working very well. We have held a lot of consultations, there have been a lot of engagement activities to design phase 2 of the federal infrastructure plan. This aspect was not mentioned by our partners—including our municipal partners—as an investment priority for the federal government.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you very much.

My next question is for the officials from Health Canada.

In your opening remarks, you mentioned the last update on the health standard—I think we can call it that—which was in 1992. If my knowledge of the matter is accurate, the effects of lead on the body are cumulative. Even if we drink high-quality drinking water for several years, we would still carry our bad drinks and, if we started again, it would add up.

Is there a date set for reviewing this standard? Do you think the 1992 standard is still adequate or should it be revised?

11:25 a.m.

Véronique Morisset Manager, Water Quality Program Division, Water and Air Quality Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

The Health Canada standard, which was established a long time ago, has been revised. In the last few years, there have been other revisions. There have been reports, such as the “Final Human Health State of the Science Report on Lead”, which has new scientific data that we have used. We made a new recommendation and published it for public consultation in the past year. We are in the process of finalizing it with the provinces. So there should be a new recommendation for drinking water quality in Canada. It should be available by about next year.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

What prompts the revision of the standard? Is it cyclical? For example, is it every five years or every 10 years, or is it revised when the scientific community reports something new?

11:25 a.m.

Manager, Water Quality Program Division, Water and Air Quality Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

Véronique Morisset

We rely on a number of criteria. It may be as a result of scientific advances, of course, but also if the provinces or territories express some needs. They are at the table to help us set priorities when we review the recommendations.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

As I understand it, Health Canada does not have to review the standard on a regular basis.

11:25 a.m.

Manager, Water Quality Program Division, Water and Air Quality Bureau, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Department of Health

Véronique Morisset

No, there is no such obligation.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much, Mr. Aubin.

Mr. Hardie.

June 6th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, all of you, for being here.

I want to get back to Mr. Bratina's question. I'm looking for an answer. Let's say the municipalities approached Infrastructure Canada and the rather large amounts of money that are available to it now. If they said that they wanted to set up a loans program or something that would help replace those main service to household lines, is that the kind of request Infrastructure Canada would entertain?

11:25 a.m.

Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Office of Infrastructure of Canada

Alain Desruisseaux

The focus is really on public infrastructure. This is something that we would morally encourage, but this is not a project that could be funded through the infrastructure funding.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Are there other sources of funding available, say, through the gas tax or the building Canada fund?