Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak today about the Government of Canada's investments in Canadian communities and in our country's infrastructure.
I have spoken in the House before about my career before politics as a city planner and I have shared the story of how that experience led me to enter public life. As an urban planner, I became all too familiar with the sorry state of our nation's infrastructure and the serious threat that it posed to the sustainability, security, prosperity and even the livability of our communities. I was also keenly aware of the opportunity before us, the potential of infrastructure to set our cities and towns up for success, if only we could find the confidence to invest in our cities, our towns and our own future.
I answered the call that I heard to enter federal politics because I wanted to be part of a team that would make historic investments in infrastructure to help literally reshape communities for the better.
As city and town planners, we have a vision for Canada where our communities empower citizens, where our communities lead Canada toward its best days. As planners, we push for a connected Canada with world-class local and regional public transit systems that get us not just to work on time but across the province dependably; an inclusive Canada with secure and affordable housing options for middle- and low-income Canadians, with quick and direct access to the places where we live, work and play, the supermarket, the doctor's office, the school, the neighbourhood day care and the ice rink. We push for a resilient Canada that is well prepared for the challenges that come with a changing climate and rising sea levels, cities and towns that are cleaner and less reliant on sources of energy that pollute our skies and harm our health, communities that are less resource intensive and do more with less; and a vibrant Canada strengthened by cities and towns that feel like home with community centres, libraries, YMCAs, museums, theatres and parks.
Here is the good news. The Canada we seek is closer now than it has ever been. We are on the threshold of sweeping transformation and the renewal of the Canadian community experience.
In 2015, our government was elected on a mandate to make those historic investments in infrastructure. Right out of the gate, we got to work. In close consultation with indigenous partners; provincial, territorial and municipal leaders; and stakeholder groups like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, we designed the investing in Canada plan, a visionary, long-term plan that is investing billions in infrastructure projects in every corner of this great land, a plan the magnitude of which has not been seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal of more than 80 years ago.
Our government believes in the importance of investing in infrastructure, and the plan is tangible proof of what the government promised Canadians, specifically, to create good jobs, grow the economy and invest in clean air and water, modern and reliable public transit, strong infrastructure and sustainable communities.
Our progress has been tremendous. Since the plan was launched, over 52,000 projects have been announced government-wide, with federal contributions of nearly $60 billion. Almost all of these projects are either started or completed.
As we said they would, these investments are translating into greater economic growth. Since 2015, Canadians have created one million new jobs, and 77,000 of these are strong, middle-class jobs in the infrastructure sector. Investments delivered by Infrastructure Canada are a core contributor to this outcome.
Through our new and legacy infrastructure funding programs, our work on building major bridges, our support for partnerships through the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the smart cities challenge, we are directly growing the economy and creating communities that work.
In 2016, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimated that fully one-third of our infrastructure was only in fair, poor or very poor condition. That is why in our very first budget, budget 2016, we committed $14.4 billion for projects that could be delivered quickly, projects that would see new public transit, green and social infrastructure built, and existing assets rehabilitated, repaired and modernized. It also provided funding for post-secondary education and broadband access for remote communities, because these are essential to helping all Canadians prepare for the future.
Nearly all of these projects are under way or completed, meaning communities across the country have already benefited from the projects delivered during that phase.
For example, in Plessisville, Quebec, we invested nearly $24 million in the renewal of water pipes and the replacement of aeration pipes throughout the municipality so that families can have peace of mind and continue to have access to clean drinking water.
In Bonnyville, Alberta, we invested over $32 million to extend the regional water supply system to bring more safe, clean water to homes.
At home in Halifax, we invested $24 million to purchase two new ferries and 39 new buses, cutting congestion on our city streets and improving the daily commute for many residents. In Toronto, Ontario, we invested close to $310 million to purchase new, clean diesel and hybrid buses to help reduce greenhouse emissions, traffic gridlock and travel time in one of Canada's busiest cities. In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, we invested $12 million to help renew and upgrade its existing fleet of buses to help more people get to and from work and to essential services more quickly.
Those were all projects Canadians told us they needed in order to prosper.
Through budget 2017, we committed an additional $81.2 billion in funding for large-scale projects that would transform the landscape of Canadian communities in five key priorities: public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation infrastructure, and funding for rural and northern communities infrastructure. Public transit projects, like Vancouver's Broadway Subway, will create new links between communities and change the way that residents get around their cities.
One year later in our second budget, budget 2017, we introduced two new initiatives: the smart cities challenge and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The smart cities challenge is a pan-Canadian competition designed to spark innovation and empower communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technologies. I can tell members that those of us in the city planning community were overjoyed with the announcement of the smart cities challenge. Finally, there was opportunity for citizens to be part of building the innovative, sustainable, modern cities that truly belong in the 21st century and a chance to get people excited about what was possible in our communities if we put our best minds together to develop forward-thinking policies.
The benefits for the winners of the first challenge are clear. Bridgewater, a challenge-winning community in Nova Scotia, is working to help lift residents out of energy poverty. Communities in Nunavut are benefiting from measures to reduce the risk of suicide. Guelph and Wellington County in Ontario are implementing their first technology-enabled circular food economy. Montreal, Quebec is innovating to enhance mobility and access to food for its residents.
All of the participating communities repeatedly talked about the major benefits, such as the opportunity to explore new ideas, access means and funding at the municipal level, and integrate even more digital technology and information into community planning.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank, CIB, is a Crown corporation that leverages federal support to attract private sector institutional investment to new revenue-generating infrastructure projects that are in the public interest. The CIB is focused on trade and transportation; public transit; broadband; and green projects, including clean power. It is advancing a new model through expert advice and evidence-based decision-making. By drawing on the capital, experience and expertise of the private sector, the bank is helping to encourage beneficial partnerships between the public sector and the private sector, which in turn make more infrastructure projects for Canadians possible while helping public dollars go further.
We have continued to build on successes and deliver results for communities across Canada. For example, through budget 2019, we provided a one-time top-up to the federal gas tax fund, which provided an additional $2.2 billion to municipalities for their priorities. In Halifax, that meant an additional $26.5 million last year.
The mandate letter for the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities makes additional commitments to Canadians, such as permanent federal public transit funds that will rise with the cost of construction, a national infrastructure fund that will support major nation-building projects, and the promise that any funds from our existing programs for provinces and territories that have not committed to approve projects by the end of 2021 would be reinvested directly into communities through another top-up of the federal gas tax fund.
We are continuing to invest in infrastructure in new and innovative ways, because our government knows that investing in infrastructure is not a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why it is not the work of one department alone.
The invest in Canada plan is the result of 14 federal departments working together to invest in Canadian cities. This approach gives us the flexibility and adaptability to meet Canadians' needs while ensuring that all levels of government make informed, strategic, evidence-based decisions.
To be clear, the provinces, territories and municipalities are the ones that will benefit from this approach because they own 98% of all core public infrastructure. That is why Infrastructure Canada worked with Statistics Canada to conduct the first national survey to provide a snapshot of the stock, condition and performance of core public infrastructure.
This inventory would not only help municipal, provincial, territorial and federal leaders determine how best to invest federal funding based on what they need and currently have, but it would also help provide baseline evidence to help monitor and assess the impact of federal investments under the plan over time. By including different funding streams with specific outcomes in our plan and different funding mechanisms and by working closely with our partners to be responsive to their needs, we are delivering results to Canadians.
In support of the Government of Canada's policy on openness and transparency and to provide the best information to Canadians, Infrastructure Canada, along with the other delivery partners, communicates progress and results on its investments to Canadians through a variety of reporting methods.
A detailed outline of the framework and the objectives of our investing in Canada plan can be found online on the Infrastructure Canada website. Canadians will also find detailed information on the implementation of the plan, the progress that has been made and the latest funds invested, as well as an online map showing the location of infrastructure projects in their communities.
Detailed information on the projects funded through the investing in Canada plan is also a posted on the federal open data portal, shared through various traditional and social media channels and made available in departments' respective annual departmental results reports.
Finally, Infrastructure Canada also issued its first annual progress report in May 2019, which provided an update on the implementation of the plan across all departments. This report is available on the department's website, and we will continue to report transparently to Canadians on an annual basis on the progress and results of the plan.
The Government of Canada is proud of its accomplishments through the investing in Canada plan and how infrastructure investments are helping improve communities across the country.
I have risen in the House today in response to a motion put forward by my colleague, the member for Mégantic—L'Érable. In his motion, he made several statements that I would like to address.
My colleague began by referring to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's March 15, 2018 post, which stated, “Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the Government's $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan.”
In his March 2018 report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer looked at investments in infrastructure across a number of departments and compared the investments these departments reported to the Government of Canada's planned spending for that period. The PBO asked for information from a number of departments and agencies about their spending on infrastructure.
In light of this, Infrastructure Canada and the other federal departments worked closely with PBO staff to provide updated data and results, and an updated report from the PBO was issued in August 2018.
According to the most recent version of the report, the Government of Canada is fulfilling its promise to make a historic investment of over $180 billion in public infrastructure over 12 years, to grow the economy and to create jobs for Canadians.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer's independent economic analysis concluded that the federal investments made under budget 2016 helped stimulate both economic activity and job creation in its first two years. These benefits have continued to accrue over the remaining life of these programs.
Furthermore, in July 2018, the Governor of the Bank of Canada also reported that the country's economy was operating close to capacity and the labour market was strong. In fact, since the start of our government's mandate, Canada's unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in four decades.
To return to the motion from the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, he further states that the “PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist”. On the contrary, the plan exists and information on the plan is available to all. As I stated earlier, in April 2018 the then minister of infrastructure and communities released a publication to the media and the public, and posted on the Infrastructure Canada website, that lays out all of the new funding programs being delivered under the plan by department.
As I mentioned earlier, the annual progress report released in May 2019 is also available on the website. Those viewing the list of programs may note that some are delivered through bilateral agreements between the federal government and the provinces and territories, which I will speak to briefly.
As members know, Infrastructure Canada is a federal funding partner for Canada's core public infrastructure, and most of its funding programs are delivered in partnership with the provinces and territories. The funding programs under the investing in Canada plan are no different in that regard. Under budget 2016, Infrastructure Canada delivered two funding programs: the clean water and wastewater fund and the public transit infrastructure fund. To deliver these programs, Infrastructure Canada signed its first bilateral agreements in 2016 with each of the provinces and territories, which spelled out the terms, obligations and commitments of each party. Under these agreements, the terms and conditions of this funding were clearly defined, as the funding was intended for the repair and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure projects.
As well, funding recipients were asked to report back to the government on a semi-annual basis. To deliver budget 2017 funding, Infrastructure Canada signed new bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories in 2018, which provided updated criteria for the funding streams included in the agreements as well as the new reporting requirements.
The funding criteria under the new bilateral agreements focus on outcomes. Project applications have to show how a project will meet these outcomes. Outcomes can include increased access to potable water or increased energy efficiency of buildings, or in rural and northern communities, improved food security.
The 2018 bilateral agreements also included revised reporting requirements, which include a detailed biannual progress report. These reports are used by the Government of Canada to provide important updates to Canadians on the progress and benefits of the projects in their communities. The full details of the bilateral agreements, including their outcomes and reporting requirements, are all publicly available on Infrastructure Canada's website. I encourage my fellow members to examine these for themselves.
By working in close partnership with the provinces, territories, municipalities and indigenous partners, we are ensuring that our smart, strategic investments in infrastructure will continue to help create good jobs and deliver real results for Canadian communities. I am proud of the work our government is doing to ensure that our communities will grow and succeed now and into the future. In respectful and productive collaboration with members on all sides of the House, we look forward to continuing on that path because we know there is still a world of opportunity that awaits us out there.
Every day citizens are developing new ideas and technologies to build better communities for all of us, whether it is at CarbonCure, a company in my home province of Nova Scotia that is helping us reduce the carbon footprint of our built environment by developing greener concrete, or at LakeCity Plastics, also in Nova Scotia, a company that transforms thousands upon thousands of plastic bags into picnic tables like those we recently revealed on the Halifax waterfront.
The future is bright for our cities and towns because when Canada builds, Canada grows.
Therefore, I would like to move an amendment to the motion. I move that the motion be amended by deleting the words “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 plan’” and the phrase “PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist”, and substituting them with the following: “given the House recognizes the importance of making smart infrastructure investments that improve the lives of Canadians.”
I am thankful for the opportunity to rise and speak in the House today.