In recent years, Canada has seen record investment in infrastructure from the federal government.
But despite annual commitments of billions of dollars, most agree that there still remains a significant infrastructure gap in this country.
But what exactly is the most pressing need for federal investment? Where can the next federal government place its focus to best help infrastructure development in this country?
ReNew Canada asked key industry players what they thought.
We asked each of the stakeholders the same question:
What policy, program or initiative could the next federal government institute in order to have the greatest impact on public sector infrastructure in Canada?
Here are their answers.
Jan De Silva, President and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade
To have the greatest impact on public infrastructure, the next federal government must make a fundamental shift – one in both policy and culture – from “funding the project” to “funding the plan.” The Toronto region, as the fastest growing area in North America, has too many infrastructure needs to be addressed by single, one-off projects. Be it affordable housing, electric and regional transit, reliable broadband or the efficient movement of people and goods, the federal government should look to provide long-term, year-over-year funding to plans that consider intersecting infrastructure demands, demographic trends and regional priorities. In other words, rather than asking if an infrastructure project should be approved and funded – the government should ask, what infrastructure do we currently have? What state is it in? And what else do we need to build?
“By asking these and other questions, the government can build a strong and experienced public infrastructure sector – one with sustained, consistent and predictable investment. In funding the plan and not the project, we will see more coherent proposals with projects that work together, rather than ones designed in isolation.”
Andrew Koolsbergen, Vice President, Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement, The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships
“It is heartening to see that the federal parties see investment in infrastructure as a key driver to boost the Canadian economy and improve the lives of our citizens. But given mounting government deficits and a lack of public appetite for increased taxes, we need them to consider how to stretch taxpayer dollars even further, while also encouraging innovation, resiliency and inclusiveness in how these projects are created, maintained and operated over the long term.
“By enabling greater use of long-term private capital and Canada’s renowned infrastructure private sector expertise, these projects are less likely to suffer cost and schedule overruns because of increased accountability and oversight. That means critical infrastructure is built for Canadians that looks beyond its initial construction to how it can continue to function for decades to come in our communities.”
John Gamble, President & CEO, ACEC-Canada
“This election is especially important because the next Parliament will make critical decisions on how Canada will recover and prosper as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. In balancing the needs for immediate stimulus and a long-term vision for our economy and environment, investing in infrastructure has a proven return on investment that governments can rely on.
“We hope to see any elected government come in with an understanding of how important it is to provide infrastructure programs that are timely, consistent, and predictable with a priority placed on the rapid delivery of funding – that approach to infrastructure will design Canada’s future prosperity. In recent years we have seen successive federal governments make historic commitments to infrastructure with significant investments. More recently, we have also seen consultations for a National Infrastructure Assessment. With the current challenges facing Canada, we must build upon these initiatives and perhaps be even more ambitious”