Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my full support for Motion M-270, moved by my colleague from LaSalle—Émard, who has worked tirelessly on the infrastructure file since she was elected. She has a keen sense of responsibility and she wants to ensure the safety of the public, particularly her constituents.
As was explained, Motion M-270 aims to develop a stable infrastructure funding plan with municipal, provincial, territorial, Inuit and first nations partners. In fact, the infrastructure motion contains six points, which I will go through one by one with my comments.
The first point calls on the government to recognize how important infrastructure is to Canadian communities. In the past, and not too long ago, the government received a number of demands for a new Champlain Bridge. Infrastructure is very important and is a matter of public safety.
Recently, in August 2011, a poll by Leger Marketing said that, soon after the collapse of a section of the Ville-Marie tunnel in August 2011, nearly nine out of ten Montrealers responded that they were worried about using Montreal's roads. In the same poll, the firm found that one out of five drivers avoided certain roads because they did not have confidence in the road infrastructure.
We are talking about the importance of infrastructure because it is a matter of public safety. When I take my car or the bus and go somewhere, I expect the infrastructure to be safe. That is what we are talking about right now. We are calling on the government to take action to protect public safety.
The second point calls for immediate action to address the safety risks posed by aging infrastructure. In Montreal we know there is a lot of work that needs to be done in this regard. The Turcot interchange, which is causing unbelievable traffic problems in Montreal, is undergoing a complete reconstruction. In my riding the Saint-Pierre interchange, a major infrastructure element, is also in need of repair. However, the work cannot be done right now because we are waiting to see how much money we will receive from the government. My riding is in chaos. There is also Lachine, which is 12 km from downtown Montreal. It can sometimes take up to two hours in traffic to get there because the infrastructure is unsafe. There are really a lot of unexpected repairs, which are causing major problems for people.
Infrastructure is an incredible economic problem. We know that infrastructure brings in money and that it generates economic spinoffs for Montreal and all large cities but, right now—since we are looking at this from an economic point of view—we are losing money. Things are going rather badly.
I would like to come back to the fact that people's quality of life is at issue.
The third point calls for a long-term funding plan with partners at all levels of government.
The fourth point says that the government must co-operate with stakeholders to develop sustainable infrastructure standards. That is what we are talking about. We need sustainable infrastructure, we need public transit and we need infrastructure that will stand the test of time. I do not get the impression that the government is working on this right now.
On October 5, our Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities announced a new Champlain Bridge, but we still do not know what it will be like. It is not really clear. We do not know where the government is going with this. We do not know whether there will be light rail or whether there will be public transit. We do not know what will happen. Canada does not have a sustainable, long-term strategy. Contracts are being awarded piecemeal. We have no idea what is happening. My constituents often ask me what the Champlain Bridge will be like. Will there be a train? Will there be buses? What type of infrastructure will it be? The government is not transparent.
The motion also calls on the government to increase the existing gas tax transfer to the municipalities by one cent per litre. We are proposing this increase in the excise tax on gasoline that already goes to the municipalities in order to help them with infrastructure needs. The Conservative government decided to reduce the federal tax from 7% to 5%. This definitely affected municipal revenues for infrastructure.
Furthermore, although the population is increasing every year, the government has done nothing to ensure that municipalities receive more money. If the population is increasing and more and more are people using our roads, of course the roads are going to wear out faster. But the government is not providing the funds needed to fix the problem.
The sixth point calls on the government to replace the Champlain Bridge. This motion was listed on the order paper before the October 5 announcement regarding the Champlain Bridge. However, we still do not know when the project will be completed or what will happen to the existing bridge. Will it be replaced? Will they continue to repair it? It is hard to get at it. There is always traffic in Montreal and no one knows how to fix the situation. We also do not know what is planned for public transit on the bridge. It seems to me that the government is not taking this aspect very seriously at the moment.
There are many important projects waiting for funding in my riding. I spoke about the Saint-Pierre interchange. It will be next after the Turcot interchange and it will take time, but we do not know what will happen. There is the Champlain Bridge. There is also the Honoré-Mercier Bridge in my riding, a structure that is 50% federally owned. What is happening with that? One lane on the bridge is always closed, which creates problems. The Dorval traffic circle, which has been and will be under reconstruction for a very long time, is also in my riding. There are problems and it is chaos.
The list is very long. I could mention many more projects that are affecting my constituents. There are no plans at present. There is something planned for 2014, but we do not know what it is. The government is not transparent. That is the problem. Building Canada is not being transparent about the Champlain Bridge and the infrastructure to replace it. We need this infrastructure now, immediately. I do not want to have to tell my constituents that there is nothing I can do right now because the government is not telling me what tools I will have.
The motion by my colleague from LaSalle—Émard focuses particularly on green, sustainable development of future infrastructure. It serves no purpose to build all kinds of infrastructure projects and subsequently lose them. I will provide a glaring example of a project undertaken without any thought to the future: Mirabel Airport. At this airport, wonderful infrastructure was built so that it could be reached by train from downtown. It was very poorly thought out. This airport is no longer used for international travel, nor is the train station, which cost millions of dollars.
This motion calls for a long-term, tangible plan to help us choose high quality projects. At present, I do not believe that I have much to say about what the government is offering
I will quote some very interesting facts. Canada's infrastructure is more than 50% owned by municipalities. We must help the municipalities get out of this mess. They must have enough money to spend on infrastructure renewal, which is important to their taxpayers.
In 2007, the federal government launched its seven-year program for supporting infrastructure in Canada. Under the 2007-2014 building Canada plan, which is ending in two years, the federal government earmarked $20 billion for basic funding, and $13.2 billion for various funds for program expenditures by various federal agencies, including the PPP Canada crown corporation.
All that money was invested and I am told that some infrastructure in my riding and elsewhere is still outdated. This just proves the need to inject more money and to establish a plan that brings together the federal, provincial and municipal levels so that they can work together on resolving all these infrastructure problems once and for all.
In closing, I would like to reiterate my support for the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, who has done excellent work on this file.
I encourage all my colleagues to vote in favour of Motion M-270 so that we can finally work with every level of government on resolving this infrastructure problem.