Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
As we all know, we are in a minority Parliament, and in a minority Parliament, Canadians are looking for us to co-operate across party lines. We all say that. That involves efforts on all sides and it involves efforts on opposition day motions. I have been listening to the debate this morning, and it seems that in a lot of ways we are talking past each other. The substance of the motion is that:
...the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to immediately conduct an audit of the government’s Investing in Canada Plan, including, but not be limited to, verifying whether the plan lives up to its stated goals and promises; and that the Auditor General of Canada report his findings to the House no later than one year following the adoption of this motion.
I have no issue with the substance of this motion. I have not heard any speaker this morning have any issue with the actual substance of the motion, which is for the independent Auditor General to look into infrastructure spending and issue a report to the House. That should be the goal of the motion.
However, there is a preamble that is not part of the motion but is included with it. The preamble is:
That, given the Parliamentary Budget Officer posted on March 15, 2018, that “Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan” and that the “PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist”, the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to....
That is not part of the substance of the motion, and in fact those selective quotes from the March report are belied by what happened afterward. In light of those comments, Infrastructure Canada and other federal departments worked with the PBO staff to provide updated data and results, and an updated report was issued in August of 2018.
The revised report found that the Government of Canada was delivering on its commitments to make historic investments of more than $180 billion in public infrastructure over 12 years to grow the economy and create jobs for Canadians. It also said that the government identified the vast majority, 95% of its infrastructure investments, and found that the infrastructure spending “raised the level of real GDP” in Canada.
We agree with the substance of the motion. Government members are simply saying that the preamble, which is not actually part of the substance of the motion, is misleading, and we have asked that the preamble be removed.
It would seem to me that in a minority Parliament where we are all trying to co-operate, in the same way that the government should make efforts to co-operate with the opposition, the opposition should say, when we all agree with the substance of the motion, “Okay, the preamble is no big deal. We believe this; you believe that. Let us get to the substance of the motion.”
I again call on my Conservative colleagues and my other colleagues in the House to revisit the amendment that our parliamentary secretary for infrastructure proposed earlier today so that we can unanimously agree on the substance of the motion, which I think we all agree to. I hope my colleagues will consider that. I know they are all reasonable people. I hope they will think about it, talk among themselves and come back.
I am pleased, though, to talk a little bit about the infrastructure investments that we are making as Canadians and as a government. We understand the need to take action to protect our environment and build sustainable communities that provide all Canadians with a good quality of life, good jobs and, most important of all, a bright future for our kids. Infrastructure is key to this, because it can help us plan for the future. That is why we introduced the historic long-term Investing in Canada plan.
Our plan is based on three key objectives: creating long-term economic growth, supporting a low-carbon, green economy, and building inclusive communities. To do this, we committed to invest in five main infrastructure priorities: public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation infrastructure, and rural and northern communities infrastructure.
Today I would like to focus on how the government's investments in public transit infrastructure and green infrastructure are benefiting Canadians in their communities from coast to coast to coast.
As I mentioned, our government has made supporting a low-carbon green economy, building inclusive communities and protecting the environment top priorities. Investing in clean, resilient infrastructure that helps reduce emissions, helps move to a net-zero carbon economy and protects people from the impacts of climate change is the right thing to do. It also happens to make financial sense. It is a win-win-win.
That is why we are working together with provinces, territories and municipalities to encourage innovation transportation projects that will create low-carbon communities and position Canada as a leader in clean technology. It is clear that switching to zero-emission public transit options helps reduce greenhouse gases and emissions. That is why Infrastructure Canada is providing $25.3 billion in federal funding to provinces and territories for their public transit projects through the Investing in Canada infrastructure program. That is also why we have committed to invest in 5,000 zero-emission buses. Beginning in 2023, we will be directing all new federal public transit funding to zero-emission options.
While we work with our partners towards that goal, we are continuing to deliver results under our funding programs. To date we have helped purchase more than 3,800 new buses and refurbish approximately 4,900 others. We have funded improvements or construction of nearly 15,000 bus stops and shelters, which are better protecting commuters from the elements. We have helped make over 580 transit stations more accessible so that people can make their connections in good time and we have rolled out more energy-efficient buses and invested in light rail projects to reduce carbon emissions. That includes the City of Guelph's green public transit projects that my colleague talked about earlier. These projects will replace 35 diesel buses with long-range electric battery buses as well as install on-route charging stations. The funding will also help to purchase an additional 30 electric buses and build a new bus storage facility fitted with electric charging stations.
It includes $12.6 million for Victoria, B.C.'s, new handyDART operations and maintenance facility. The handyDART bus service provides accessible, door-to-door shared transit for riders with reduced mobility, handling more than 390,000 trips annually through greater Victoria. Not only will this facility accommodate double the current fleet size, but it is also the first LEED gold standard B.C. transit facility in B.C., meeting a standard that recognizes best management practices to reduce waste of all kinds.
Investments through the Canada Infrastructure Bank in new projects in Montreal, such as the Réseau express métropolitain, or REM, and the Contrecoeur port, will increase productivity, reduce pollution, transportation and commute times, and, ultimately, get people and goods to where they need to go faster.
These investments in sustainable transportation are all making positive changes that will strengthen our communities, support economic growth and build a greener future.
We also know that investing in resilient infrastructure that can protect against or withstand climate impacts is critical to helping communities get back on their feet and back to business faster after an extreme weather or disaster event. It is also basic yet effective asset management. The costs of climate change impacts are significant and increasing. Property and casualty insurance losses in Canada averaged $405 million per year between 1983 and 2008, but jumped to $1.8 billion between 2009 and 2017.
That is why, through the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund, we are investing in projects like the flood protection project in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Once complete, this project will help protect over 27,500 residents within a 12 square kilometre area. The city says it will reduce the number of people directly affected by future flooding by 83%. It is also expected to provide long-term savings in recovery and replacement costs.
As we have seen here at home and around the world, we need to tackle these climate change events more efficiently and more effectively. We know that building resilient infrastructure is less costly than repairing it after a disaster.
We know that infrastructure is important to all of us, to all of our communities, to all of our ridings across the country, and we know that we can do it in a way that respects taxpayers' dollars and protects and enhances our natural environment for generations to come.