Mr. Chair, I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the committee tonight. I am here to highlight one of the central initiatives in budget 2015, the important role our government plays in supporting infrastructure in Canada. Canadians rely on public infrastructure on a day-to-day basis. It gets us to work in the morning and home at night. It moves our goods to market, connecting our people and businesses with the world. It connects our families.
Canada's prosperity and quality of life depend on a vast network of public infrastructure, from roads to highways to bridges to transit systems, water and waste water infrastructure, ports, airports, and recreational and cultural facilities. Investments in Canada's public infrastructure create jobs, support trade, and promote productivity and economic growth in communities across Canada.
The Liberals take great pride in their record when they were in government, but the facts tell a different story. The Liberals under Paul Martin ran an ad hoc, unpredictable and insufficient so-called infrastructure program.
In contrast, through our government's long-term commitment to public infrastructure, we have made significant investments in infrastructure across Canada.
Through the $33-billion building Canada plan, our government has helped build over 12,000 provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure projects from one end of this country to the other, but we did not stop there. We went even further.
Economic action plan 2013 committed $70 billion in public infrastructure over the next decade. This includes the $53-billion new building Canada plan for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure. This funding was unprecedented and the largest, longest federal infrastructure plan in Canadian history.
To build on this record, our government also doubled the gas tax fund to help municipalities address their infrastructure priorities. To top that off, we even made the fund permanent. I know the Liberals do not like to hear that, so let me repeat it. We took a temporary program, passed legislation, over their objections, and made it permanent. Last year we announced it would grow at 2% per year, to be applied in $100-million increments. This means local municipalities will get an additional $1.8 billion in funding over the next decade for their roads, sewers, bridges and other like projects.
In York Centre, the riding which I am so privileged to represent, many of the roads, like Wilson Avenue and Finch Avenue have been recently newly paved. Sewers were upgraded on Antibes Drive, just to name a few.
Our government did not stop there. We also added an additional 11 eligible categories, including disaster mitigation, recreation, tourism and culture. As a result, communities have more choice for projects that can be supported by the federal gas tax fund.
Our government listens to local mayors. This fund, which has already done so much for municipalities, will continue to support infrastructure priorities for many years to come.
Another major component of our plan, the new building Canada fund, totals $14 billion over 10 years. Under the new building Canada fund, each province and territory has been allocated a base amount. Funding under this component is available, not just for provincial, but municipal governments as well. Of course, our government also understands the importance of smaller communities and their needs and priorities. That is why we are guaranteeing that $1 billion will be reserved for communities with populations under 100,000 across the country.
Taken together, investments in infrastructure will keep Canada moving full speed into the future.
We all know that traffic congestion is getting worse in our large cities. Our government understands every minute spent in a car is one less minute spent with our families. It means higher costs for businesses and less livable cities. Building on our government's investment in public transit to date, economic action plan 2015 introduced a new and innovative fund to promote public transit infrastructure investment that is affordable for taxpayers and efficient for commuters.
The public transit fund is a permanent fund that provides up to $1 billion per year for major public transit projects. This is the first time ever a federal government has provided directly for public transit. This is just another way our Conservative government is building on the longest and largest public transit program record in Canadian history.
Here is an important fact. Our Conservative government is investing three times more in infrastructure than the previous Liberal government did. It is no wonder the Canadian Federation of Independent Business applauded our government's action plan 2015 and gave it an A.
That is not all; there is more. The new public transit fund has also been praised by municipalities across Canada. Here is what the Federation of Canadian Municipalities had to say:
The transit investment in this budget is good news for Canadians and marks an important achievement on a key issue they face every day. This level of permanent, ongoing funding has the potential to be transformative for public transit across this country.
The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships also praised budget 2015 and, in particular, the creation of a new public transit fund by saying:
The Federal Government has demonstrated leadership today by continuing to invest in public transit infrastructure that is critical to the economic engine of our municipalities and to people’s quality of life.
Mayors from across the country have applauded our new public transit fund. Here is what some of them had to say.
Mayor John Tory of Toronto said, “This is a major step forward for Toronto and for the country.” He also said, “This is good news for Toronto and for cities across Canada.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said, “I’m pleased to see a permanent public transit fund being established with enough dollars to generate the federal share of our Metro Vancouver transit plan.”
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said, “This money will allow us actually to continue building LRT indefinitely until the system is done, which is very exciting news for Edmontonians.”
No federal government in Canadian history has ever made a stronger commitment of supporting infrastructure than our Conservative government. This new public transit fund will complement our government's existing infrastructure support by providing significant long-term support for public transit projects that help all Canadians. That is what Canadians expect from our government, and we are delivering.
Through the new building Canada plan, our government is providing stable, predictable funding over the next decade for public infrastructure across Canada. While we have a public transit fund in place, our existing federal infrastructure will continue to support thousands of ongoing or new infrastructure projects across Canada in 2015 alone.
While the Liberal Party plan is to raise taxes and recklessly increase spending, our Conservative government is committed to investing in public infrastructure to reduce commuting times for families, enhance our economic productivity, and encourage job creation and economic growth across Canada.
I now have a question for the Minister of Finance.
What is the government doing to support infrastructure in Canada?