A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled in the House of Commons concluded that Transport Canada did a good job of designing and implementing the National Trade Corridors Fund but did not track and report on its results well. Launched in 2017, the fund has the objective of improving the movement of goods across Canada through strengthening its network of roads, rails, airports, and seaports by 2028. International trade represents more than 60 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product and relies on moving goods in and out of the country.

The audit found that Transport Canada gathered and used evidence on the status and performance of trade corridors to identify bottlenecks and other fluidity constraints present in the transportation infrastructure. The department used this evidence to design the fund and conduct its calls for project proposals. For example, a call for project proposals targeted Canadian ports experiencing congestion, as shown in the available data. This evidence-based approach supported the selection of projects intended to tackle proven gaps in the infrastructure.

The audit also found weaknesses in how Transport Canada tracked and reported on performance. Half of the funded projects had an incomplete performance measurement strategy to assess their results. Because of this, it was unclear whether projects were having the intended impact. For the remaining 5 years of the fund, Transport Canada needs to strengthen its results monitoring and reporting systems to properly assess the success of projects and, ultimately, of the fund.

“Infrastructure programs like the National Trade Corridors Fund take years to produce results,” said Ms. Hogan. “This time factor makes it all the more important to have a robust system to track performance so that Transport Canada can show the extent to which the fund has contributed to improving the fluidity of Canada’s transportation infrastructure.”

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Featured image: (Government of Canada)


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