Mr. Speaker, infrastructure is the backbone of any economy. Canada's economic success depends on smart and strategic investment in infrastructure programs.
Unfortunately, the Conservative government has allowed Canadian infrastructure to crumble and decay, including by ignoring Ontario, our country's industrial heartland, in favour of subsidizing the energy sector in Alberta.
Ontario pays 39% of all federal revenues but receives only 34% of federal program dollars. My riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North in northern Ontario represents a vast and remote region. However, our region's economy faces unique challenges and threats. Unemployment rates are high, commodity prices are falling, forestry continues to suffer, tourism has fallen without adequate federal marketing, exports have decreased, and there are no roads or power lines to most remote first nations communities.
The economic growth rate in Canada from 2006 to now, under the Conservatives, has fallen to a miniscule 1.77%, the lowest growth rate since 1930. The wrong economist is running Canada.
The IMF estimates that Canada pays out an astonishing $34 billion a year in subsidies and untaxed externalities to the fossil fuel industries. That is $34 billion a year to some of the wealthiest corporations in Canada, while total investments in infrastructure, the building block of our economy, are receiving only a quarter as much, at about $7.5 billion a year.
The population of Canada is 35 million. That means, if we do the math, a whopping $952, or almost $1,000, per year in energy subsidies from every Canadian to the oil sector. On average, every Canadian was taxed—it is really a tax—$952 in 2014 to subsidize big oil. This is on top of the payments we make through our energy bills. David Lipton of the IMF explains that removing these subsidies worldwide could lead to a 13% decline in C02 emissions.
Infrastructure monies to municipalities have gone down significantly under the Conservatives. Budgetary holdups meant that some Canadian cities are likely to be receiving no infrastructure funding for the third year in a row.
FedNor has steadily decreased its funding to various programs in northern Ontario, despite increased applications for funding. Those applications are held up, stuck on his desk, by the minister from Kenora, who puts his party before his communities and his constituents.
What could Canada do with an extra $34 billion a year? We could build about 140 kilometres of badly needed urban subway lines every year, or we could build about 560 kilometres of light rail transit.
Canada's infrastructure deficit of crumbling roads, rusting rail, and outdated water and sewage treatment is pegged at $171 billion in backlog. That huge backlog could, and would, be wiped out in five years with the revenue we are subsidizing to the oil, coal, and gas sectors, but our Prime Minister has refused repeatedly to even meet with the premiers to discuss it.
When will this government start supporting important infrastructure projects, including those in Thunder Bay—Superior North and all across Canada?