Madam Speaker, in October 2018, I asked whether we were going to incur any penalties for the construction delays on the Champlain Bridge. These delays prove that P3s are not actually more effective.
I am not sure why, but at the time, the parliamentary secretary's answer was about safety. Today, I would therefore like to talk about sustainable infrastructure.
On February 12, 2019, I was in the village of Saint-Dominique in my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, where I held a press conference calling on the federal government to include criteria to promote sustainable infrastructure when awarding contracts.
I then had a discussion with the owners of a local family business, father and son Jacques and Frédéric Sylvestre, as well as project manager David Jodoin and R&D director Jean Dubrueil.
I was pleased to learn that this business from my riding supplied the concrete for the Champlain Bridge. Since it hopes to do the same for the REM and can guarantee its concrete for 125 years, I keep repeating that investing in sustainable infrastructure will pay off down the road. I do not understand why sustainability criteria are not taken into account when tenders are put out for federal government contracts.
A few weeks ago, the Liberals said that they were in infrastructure mode. It was high time. It is also time for them to be in sustainable infrastructure mode so that all the taxpayers' money is invested in high-quality, long-lasting infrastructure with little environmental impact. It is time for sustainable development to be included in requests for proposals.
It is important to acknowledge individual initiatives from companies in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. Roller-compacted concrete by the Saint-Dominique quarry is a perfect example of sustainable innovation. Infrastructure developed with rolled concrete is an example of an innovative process that everyone should be on board with, including the federal government.
From now on, we must design and build all our infrastructure based on sustainable performance criteria for the lifetime of the infrastructure and that includes the environmental, economic, and social cost, as much as it includes the cost of maintenance, restoration, or partial replacement as needed.
Recently at the Standing Committee on Transport, I asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Yves Giroux, about including a sustainability criterion in federal government requests for proposals. He said:
In your example, this would ensure funding for projects that, at first glance, are a little more expensive but are more cost effective.
In light of this response, the NDP believes that the money required to build sustainable facilities must not be considered only as expenses. This money should be considered as sustainable investments that have significant economic spinoffs, that are environmentally sound and that minimize negative consequences for our communities.
Like my NDP colleague from Hochelaga, I think that we should ensure that the sustainable development criterion is applied when affordable and community housing is being built. Social housing is important for low-income Canadians. If the housing were to be built with sustainable materials, the upkeep would be cheaper and, again, it would undeniably be good for the environment.
In conclusion, the NDP and I believe that sustainable economic development is the future of infrastructure, public transit and social housing. It is clear that in the long term, a sustainable project makes financial and environmental sense.