Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, is seeking public advice on spending priorities to overcome the nation’s infrastructure deficit.
She has launched an Engagement Paper on Canada’s first National Infrastructure Assessment: “Building the Canada We Want in 2050.”
The paper sets out the purpose and benefits of undertaking a National Infrastructure Assessment and seeks input from the public, Indigenous Peoples, provinces, territories, municipalities, and stakeholders on three main priorities of the assessment.
Three top priorities identified are:
- Assessing Canada’s infrastructure needs and establishing a long-term vision;
- Improving coordination among infrastructure owners and funders; and
- Determining the best ways to fund and finance infrastructure.
The Minister notes the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a severe economic crisis, making it even more critical to create jobs and accelerate growth.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the greatest recession since the Great Depression, and we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build the Canada we want as we invest in our recovery,” she said.
“But we will not achieve our ambition by accident. Working with Canadians, using the best available data and guided by global best practices, we can guide our infrastructure spending to chart a strong path to 2050, creating good jobs, tackling climate change, and building cleaner more inclusive communities. Working together, this project can be nation-building.”
The Minister expects that the National Infrastructure Assessment, once in place, will help identify Canada’s evolving needs and priorities in the built environment and undertake evidence-based long-term planning toward a net-zero emissions future.
The Government expects feedback by June 30th, on the three priorities for the National Infrastructure Assessment and how to achieve them, as outlined in the Engagement Paper.
One area of major concern to the Minster is the need to address the crippling infrastructure deficit in Indigenous communities.
The federal government has directed the Canada Infrastructure Bank to invest at least $1-billion in revenue-generating projects that benefit Indigenous peoples as part of a new statement of priorities for the Crown corporation.
In a mandate letter to Tamara Vrooman, the Canada Investment Bank’s new chairperson McKenna said there is an urgent need to address the infrastructure deficit in Indigenous communities and support the government’s commitment to advance reconciliation with those communities.
“As the CIB identifies investment opportunities in the public interest, I understand that will include infrastructure projects made in partnership with, and that benefit, Indigenous Peoples,” McKenna wrote.
Following the current engagement process, the Government will consider the next steps for the National Infrastructure Assessment, including reviewing priorities, establishing an independent advisory body, setting out the processes for obtaining expert advice, ongoing public engagement and producing interim studies and reports to inform infrastructure policy and investment.