Mr. Speaker, I asked a question in the House about why the Conservative government was cutting infrastructure funding next year. The answer was that despite the Prime Minister's claims, the economy was not his top priority. The main thing the Prime Minister is focused on is being able to go into the next election and say that he has eliminated the very deficit that he created in 2008 in order to gain votes.
Because of this, important federal investments are being delayed until after the next election. This is in spite of the fact that action now would generate economic growth and help middle-class families. We saw this when the Prime Minister delayed, for two years, his recently announced funding to help first nations children's education. That is a tremendously important investment when fewer than four in ten young aboriginal students even graduate from high school if they live on reserve.
However, Mr. Harper felt that was not as important as his balanced budget target date. Therefore, the funding does not flow until after the next election.
The new building Canada fund is no different. It is a 10-year plan, which Liberals were happy to see, but it is heavily back end loaded and extremely light on funding until after the next election. In fact, for the next two years, the fund will have only $210 million of new funding a year. If we compare this with the old building Canada fund commitment for 2013-14, which was $1.7 billion, this has been an 87% cut and it will not be back to last year's level until 2019. That puts projects like the Broadway corridor expansion of SkyTrain at risk.
Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver held a press conference this week to say that the Broadway corridor expansion of SkyTrain must go forward. However, the federal share of this investment may be delayed many years due to the delay in funding for infrastructure by the Conservative government.
Liberal Party members recently passed a resolution calling for major infrastructure investments of up to 1% of GDP. They understand how critically important infrastructure investment is.
UBC generates more than $10 billion in economic activity annually, but the bus-clogged Broadway corridor that goes right through my riding of Vancouver Quadra, is a major impediment to investment in the corridor, according to a KPMG report written recently. A new SkyTrain link from Broadway to Commercial would connect jobs and innovation centres in metro Vancouver, making this one of Canada's most important infrastructure and economic corridors.
As Mayor Gregor Robertson recently said:
We will see companies from all over the world coming to Vancouver if there’s good connectivity....The cities we compete with globally in technology are well-connected and are invested in rapid transit, and we need to keep pace. So it will have a nationally significant economic impact.
This expansion just makes good sense. In the short run, the Broadway corridor rapid transit project will create jobs, jobs in construction, transportation and manufacturing. In the long run, public transit in the Broadway corridor will improve the quality of life and of our air, reduce traffic gridlock and stress, shorten commute times and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It will increase our productivity and make Canada a more attractive place to invest.
All we need to do is look at the economic benefits of our life sciences and innovation clusters along the Broadway corridor and the important post-secondary institutions, like UBC in Vancouver Quadra, to know that if we act now, we can realize more benefits for greater Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada. Starving the building Canada fund is not the way to do this.