Canada needs smarter investment for the future, not more P3 projects

November 4, 2016

In Tuesday’s fiscal update, the federal government announced that it is prioritizing infrastructure investment to support long-term growth. And while investments in public transit, green infrastructure and rural and northern communities are welcomed, there is concern that investment in clean air, clean water, social housing, and childcare were not addressed.

“We support the priorities that the government is continuing to fund under their infrastructure plan. Public transit can lower congestion and emissions, as well as improve productivity and wellbeing,” said CLC president Hassan Yussuff.

“But investment in clean air and clean water are critical to the health and wellbeing of everyone in Canada. Investments in social housing and childcare are sorely needed, and would help create good jobs,” added Yussuff.

The government also announced the establishment of a new Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). They will provide $15M from their infrastructure pot, and they hope to attract $4 to $5 in private funding for every public dollar invested.

“We have serious concerns about private investment in public infrastructure. It prioritizes investments such as toll bridges and highways over clean air and clean water,” said Yussuff.

In 2014, an Ontario auditor general report found that most P3 projects have turned out to be more expensive to both government (eg. cost overruns) and consumers (eg. user fees and tolls), and offer lower quality services.

Yussuff said it’s odd that the federal government would set up a bank to facilitate public borrowing from the private sector at a time when the federal government can borrow money at record low interest rates.

“Canada needs investment in a green industrial transformation, not more of the same private-public partnerships that short-change workers and communities. I sincerely hope the government takes this opportunity to invest properly for Canada’s future,” said Yussuff.