Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle.
I want to say how delighted I am to be able to tell the House today about the government's achievements and plans for infrastructure in our country. The Government of Canada knows that investing in strategic infrastructure is vital for the success of communities where Canadians live.
My colleague, the hon. Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, spoke passionately and eloquently about the difference that infrastructure made in his life since becoming a member of cabinet. As it has been frequently pointed out, we hear the same story everywhere. Infrastructure creates new opportunities for Canadians. Public transit allows people to commute between their home and their workplace; child care facilities are safe and nurturing places where children can learn and play; modern water supply and sewage treatment systems make it possible for homes and businesses across the country to have safe drinking water.
Through investments in these vital sectors and other areas, the Government of Canada clearly shows its commitment to the health, well-being, and quality of life of Canadians across the country.
I would like to elaborate on this. As my colleagues know, the Government of Canada first presented its infrastructure investment plan in budget 2016. This plan targeted three sectors: public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure.
To jump-start the work and to respond in the short term to urgent needs, the first phase of the plan addressed the repair and rehabilitation of current systems. Across Canada, the provinces and territories applied to the $3.4 billion public transit infrastructure fund program to purchase new buses, expand vehicle maintenance garages, and install bus shelters. Although this work is not impressive, it is important and even necessary. Bus shelters are important. Public transit users like to use them as they wait for the bus when it is raining or snowing. Modern and reliable buses are important. They need fewer repairs, which means that public transit services are more regular and Canadians can get to work or school on time. It is important to have the space needed to do required maintenance and repairs in order for the buses to quickly get back on the road.
We have also invested $2 billion in water and wastewater facilities across the country under the clean water and wastewater fund. To date, we have supported over 900 projects under this funding program, which means that Canadians are benefiting from improved access to quality drinking water and that our rivers and lakes are now less polluted.
Finally, over 2,000 projects to retrofit and renovate social housing have been approve to date. That means that nearly 900 existing social housing units have been made more energy efficient and now have improved access to water.
We also simplified and broadened the eligibility criteria for projects under previous programs so that the necessary funding could be quickly distributed to communities. As a result, we have approved funding of over $800 million for projects across the country.
In Quebec, this funding has been used to support various projects, such as those involving the Le Diamant theatre, Saint Joseph's Oratory, and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. I have also had the opportunity to announce many water and wastewater projects in my own riding, which will help the communities and municipalities in my region.
Last November, we tabled our fall economic statement, which set out the financial framework for the next steps of our infrastructure plan. We made those commitments official in budget 2017. We increased our commitment to infrastructure by providing for investments of over $180 billion. I want to emphasize that because it is a historic investment of $180 billion over 12 years. We increased our investments in social infrastructure, green infrastructure, and public transit infrastructure, and we are making investments in trade and transportation infrastructure and rural and northern communities infrastructure.
Today I am pleased to welcome to Parliament representatives from Matane who have come to talk about the importance of infrastructure in our communities. I am proud that we have the financial means to invest in key pieces of infrastructure going forward.
We have boosted our investment in social infrastructure, and we have also released details about two new initiatives, the smart cities challenge and the Canada infrastructure bank. As my colleagues have explained, the Canada infrastructure bank will invest $35 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and capital investment, and will also attract private capital for public infrastructure.
Mobilizing private capital will enable us to optimize federal infrastructure dollars. People have expressed concern that the bank will invest only in major projects in big cities, and we want to address those concerns.
I just want to reiterate that the Government of Canada is determined to finance infrastructure in rural and northern communities through its invest in Canada program. Those communities will also get money under other funding programs in our plan.
Many of the needs of small communities are the same as those of big cities, and the purpose of the bank is to offer support for these investment sectors. Small communities need facilities to generate clean electricity, and have to deliver strategic projects to transport energy and connect to other networks, just like big cities. Small communities also use interprovincial networks to transport electricity, which is just one of the sectors where the bank will be able to intervene.
The bank will examine projects with revenue-generating potential, and it is possible that large-scale projects will also be undertaken in our small communities or rural regions. Some of these sectors might benefit from the advantages of the major projects also delivered in the regions in collaboration with other communities.
In addition, we are happy to prepare for the challenge of smart cities, which is another way to rethink the way we invest in infrastructure by presenting our cities with the challenge of engaging in innovation. Our cities have to be at their best to handle international competition and meet the needs of their citizens.
By creating smart cities, we will promote innovation and positive change for our cities, and that positive change will mean benefits for the Canadians who live in those cities. We believe that small cities will contribute to improving the quality of life of residents, and we are sure that our cities will seize this opportunity and will find new initiatives that will take advantage of innovation and technology to effectively meet the needs of their citizens. In the end, the challenge of smart cities is another tool that will help support long-term change all across Canada.
In closing, we understand that change must lead to growth that will benefit all Canadians at every stage of their life, whether they are young, newcomers, working, retired, veterans or indigenous people.
We have made major progress this past year by investing in projects to establish communities that are healthier and more economically viable. The investing in Canada plan outlines the way we will be investing in the future in Canada by putting qualified, talented, and creative Canadians at the heart of an economy of the future that is more focused on innovation.