Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to address my hon. colleague's motion about infrastructure. Quite frankly, this motion is too little, too late.
I appreciate the concern of my colleague on the matter. However, if the NDP really cared about the state of the infrastructure in Canada, its members would have voted for the numerous initiatives to help the provinces, territories and municipalities. They should have supported our $33 billion building Canada fund in 2007. They did not. They should have voted for the thousands of economic action plan infrastructure projects across Canada in 2009. They did not. They should have voted for the increase of the gas tax fund transfer payments. They did not. They should have voted, not once but twice, for the legislation making the gas tax fund permanent. Not once but twice, they voted against it.
For seven years, the New Democrats voted against every one of our infrastructure initiatives. Now they are asking to do what we have already done. They are asking to do something they do not believe in. They have repeatedly voted down our entire proposal to support infrastructure spending, while Canadians know that our Conservative government has delivered big for them over the last seven years.
That being said, building on the comments already made by my hon. colleagues, I would like to focus on three key issues: first, the significant value that P3 generates; second, what our government is doing to move the P3 agenda forward; and third, some of the key successes we have achieved so far.
Before I talk about infrastructure, I would inform my colleagues that strengthening Canada's economic and fiscal health has been the top priority of our government for the last seven years.
With an uncertain global economy, we remain focused on ensuring Canada offers the right environment to attract the business investment necessary to create more and better paying jobs, thereby improving the living standards of all Canadians. We have a strong economic record, one that Canadians can look at to trust as we once again face economic headwinds emanating from abroad.
Contrary to what the official opposition members may believe, our economic policies to date, epitomized by Canada's economic action plan, have worked and placed Canada on the right track. They have provided Canada with a competitive advantage today on which we can capitalize to ensure our prosperity for tomorrow.
The facts speak for themselves. For instance, Canada has more than recovered both all of the output and all of the jobs lost during the recession. Since July 2009, employment has increased by 900,000 jobs and is more than 470,000 jobs above the pre-recession peak, the strongest job growth among G7 countries over the recovery. Real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels, and it is also the best performance in the G7.
In short, Canada has weathered the global economic storm well, and the world has noticed.
While it is gratifying to highlight Canada's economic strengths, we all know we cannot afford to be complacent. Today's advantage will not carry into tomorrow simply by sheer luck or good intentions. This is especially true in an all-too-volatile global economy. Although coming from beyond our borders, a number of external threats could have severe consequences for the Canadian economy. Rest assured that our government is cognizant of these challenges and will remain focused and disciplined on the things we can control.
For example, we continue to control the growth in government spending by implementing the savings measures identified in economic action plan 2012. We continue to implement the commitments made in economic action plan 2012 to encourage jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.
That brings me to the key point, the importance of P3s for infrastructure projects.
Canadians count on good, reliable and lasting infrastructure. It is important to our quality of life and the strength of our communities. Today, in this uncertain economic environment, we must also view infrastructure through another lens: its contribution to economic growth and improved competitiveness.
During the global economic recession, our government responded with an unprecedented action plan that provided federal funding to help build much needed infrastructure in cities, towns and villages across the country. I stress that this was done in partnership with other levels of government. We may sometimes hold different viewpoints, but there are fundamental priorities on which we can all agree. The importance of infrastructure investment is one of these.
Since 2006, our government has significantly increased its direct support for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure. We have done so as a result of two key initiatives: Canada's seven year infrastructure plan, launched in 2007; the building Canada plan and infrastructure measures found in the 2009 economic action plan.
These include: $8.8 billion under the building Canada fund, of which an estimated $5 billion will continue to flow this year and over future years to municipalities, provinces and territories to reflect project timelines; and predictable long-term funding for municipalities under the gas tax fund and the goods and services tax rebate for municipalities. Our government has made a $2 billion annual allocation under the gas tax fund, a permanently legislated measure municipalities can count on year in and year out.
It also includes investments to strengthen the trade related infrastructure through the gateways and border crossings fund and the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative.
In total, based on the most recent reports received, more than 30,000 projects have been completed with support from Canada's economic action plan since January 2009, creating tens of thousands of jobs in communities across Canada at a time when they were most needed.
Our government's infrastructure plan is comprehensive and brings our partners on board, including the private sector, for an even greater infrastructure impact.
Of all the components of our plan, the focus on P3s is what I would like to speak to in greater detail in the time allocated to me today.
Governments throughout the world have been increasingly turning toward P3s to deliver much-needed public infrastructure investments. Public investments in infrastructure have grown significantly, but we need creativity and vision when it comes to financing, delivering and maintaining infrastructure.
P3s can and should be used when they make sense, which is when they provide better value for taxpayer money than traditional procurement can. This happens through sharing risk with the private sector, such as design, construction, operating and maintenance.
Through P3s, governments can access private sector expertise, technology and capital to build public infrastructure faster and at a lower cost to the taxpayer. It was an approach we encouraged in the beginning of our mandate when in 2006 the government introduced “Advantage Canada”, a strategic long-term economic plan designed to improve our country's economic prosperity into the future. A key element of it was a greater use of P3s in Canadian infrastructure projects.
In 2008 our government announced the creation of PPP Canada to deliver $1.2 billion P3 funding, one important component of the building Canada plan. PPP Canada became operational in 2009. Four years later, the corporation is making a difference in the Canadian P3 industry.
PPP Canada works with provincial and territorial governments, municipalities and first nations to promote the increased adoption of public-private partnerships in infrastructure procurement.
As someone who is a strong supporter of the benefits of P3, it is heartening to know that I have many examples to choose from. For example, in the last year alone, PPP Canada has been acting as an adviser to Transport Canada on both the new bridge in Montreal, over the St. Lawrence, and the Detroit River international crossing, two of the largest potential P3 projects under construction in Canada.
The new Detroit bridge will attract investments and business opportunities to boost local and national economies and will result in much-needed jobs for Ontario and Michigan communities. The new crossing will increase border capacity to handle future trade and travel growth and will be built with the security of both our countries in mind. With the co-operation of the Michigan government and with the help of PPP Canada, we will get this important project built.
PPP Canada has also successfully launched four annual rounds calling for applications to the P3 Canada fund from provinces, territories, municipalities and first nations. Their outreach and awareness strategy combined with their expert advice has resulted in the announcement of 14 P3 projects across Canada, totalling close to $1.9 billion in eligible construction costs alone.
Through these interactions and its work with federal departments and agencies, PPP Canada is gaining hands-on experience and has developed the knowledge and expertise to provide high-quality advice to its clients at all levels of government. In addition, PPP Canada has created a suite of tools and products aimed at sharing this knowledge with other organizations considering the P3 option.
In budget 2011 our government went further, instituting a requirement that federal departments evaluate the potential for using a P3 to deliver large federal capital projects. As a result, all federal infrastructure projects creating an asset with a lifespan of at least 20 years and having a capital cost of $100 million or more must be assessed to determine whether a P3 may be a suitable procurement option.
Should the assessment conclude that there is P3 potential, the procurement department is required to develop a P3 proposal among possible procurement options. Departments are also encouraged to explore the potential of P3 approaches for other types of projects and procurements of services.
All of these initiatives will mean getting the P3 approach considered more often for more projects across the country.
That brings me to my final point: some of the highlights of the continuing success of the P3s.
Recent projects supported by P3 Canada funding include: the construction of a transit facility and a permanent snow storage decontamination facility in the city of Saskatoon; the Iqaluit international airport improvement project, which will improve existing infrastructure and build a new airport terminal building; a new train maintenance facility for Lachine, Quebec that will provide a long-term solution to public transit development in the greater Montreal area; the construction of the North Saskatchewan River crossing in Alberta to alleviate traffic congestion; and the construction of a new organic biofuels facility in the city of Surrey, B.C.
With projects such as these, it is no secret that Canada has become a global leader in P3s. While still new for some Canadian provinces, territories and municipalities, Canada can and should celebrate this success.
Federal departments and agencies, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Export Development Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, along with PPP Canada and the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, are sharing their knowledge and experience to help transform the global P3 market in the process.
In conclusion, as we can see, even amidst a volatile global economy we have achieved a great deal in working together in innovative new ways to get infrastructure off the blueprints and into the communities across Canada. P3 plays no small part in making that possible. We know that P3s can save taxpayer money and allow more projects to be built across the country. Quite simply, we need P3s and we cannot afford to overlook their potential as we deal with persistent global uncertainty. I expect P3s will continue to play a significant role in infrastructure investment, helping to connect and strengthen this great country.
The reality is, whether it is building better roads to reduce congestion and keep people and goods moving or public buildings that serve the needs of the community or bridges that link us to each other, infrastructure is key to our success. We believe that the ingenuity and creativity of individual Canadians will create a lasting economic growth and jobs through investment and innovation. In working toward a better Canada, infrastructure will play a key role in connecting Canadians to the world and each other.
Based on the decisive measures our government has already taken to support infrastructure projects in our great country, I feel there is no need to support this motion today, and we will not be lectured by a party that stood in the way of the largest infrastructure investment in Canadian history.