OTTAWA — Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna has announced a new $3.3-billion COVID-19 Resilience funding stream that accelerates spending under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
An Aug. 5 statement said the Investing in Canada plan is being adjusted so that provinces and territories can use federal funding to act quickly on a range of pandemic-resilient infrastructure projects. Examples given are retrofitting schools to deal with the pandemic, upgrading hospitals and long-term care homes to deal with social distancing requirements, and building new parks, cycling and walking paths, promoting better health.
Disaster mitigation projects that protect against floods and fires will also be supported through the accelerated funding program.
The statement said the changes are “designed as short-term measures to address the current situation while we continue to work towards the long-term infrastructure objectives, including better public transit, more high-speed broadband, wastewater infrastructure and clean energy projects.”
The changes will help get more projects underway faster, and support longer-term goals of sustainable, economically healthy, low-carbon, and inclusive communities, McKenna said at a media conference.
Under a new COVID-19 stream, projects will be eligible for a larger federal cost share – up to 80 per cent for provinces, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations in provinces, and raising it to 100 per cent for remote, northern and territorial projects designated under the new stream. There will be a simplified funding application process and accelerated approvals, the release said.
The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program is delivered through bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories.
To be eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Resilience stream, the project’s eligible costs must be under $10 million, construction must be started no later than Sept. 30, 2021, and it must be completed by the end of 2021 (or by the end of 2022 in the territories and in remote communities).
Eligibility criteria in the program’s existing streams has also been expanded. For projects that can start before Sept. 30, 2021, the following additional flexibilities are available:
- Public Transit stream: now allows standalone pathways and active transportation projects as well as public sector inter-community commuter transit services and public sector commuter ferry infrastructure that are not part of an existing transit system.
- Green Infrastructure stream: also allows standalone pathways and active transportation projects.
- Rural and Northern Infrastructure stream: mobile and cellular projects under the broadband category; and energy efficiency or reliability projects for communities on established electricity grids under the Arctic Energy Fund.
“Our government recognizes that with the health and economic challenges presented by COVID-19, we need to support Canadians to protect their health, improve their quality of life, and create jobs. That’s why we’ve changed our infrastructure program to make it easier to invest in making schools and long-term care facilities safe for children and aging parents and to build projects that make it easier for people to get out and exercise and appreciate nature,” said McKenna.