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Show us the money: when will infrastructure money flow?

Don Wall
Show us the money: when will infrastructure money flow?

Spending infrastructure dollars in Canada is never simply a matter of getting legislation approved then cutting a cheque, spokespersons for Infrastructure Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure explained recently in statements provided to the Daily Commercial News.

The government representatives recently outlined the status of various federal infrastructure funding initiatives in response to questions.

Among relevant programs, first came the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).

In March 2018 the federal government announced the signing of a bilateral agreement with Ontario under the ICIP that will provide Ontario with more than $11.8 billion in infrastructure funding over the next decade.

Under the bilateral agreement, Ontario would receive funding for projects that the province identifies as priority under the following streams:

  • $7.4 billion under the Public Transit Stream
  • $2.2 billion under the Green Infrastructure Stream
  • $407 million under the Community, Culture and Recreation Stream
  • $250 million under the Rural and Northern Communities Stream.

Under the Integrated Bilateral Agreement (IBA), the provinces and territories are responsible for soliciting, reviewing and prioritizing projects, which are then submitted to Infrastructure Canada for funding consideration. Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure spokesperson Sofia Sousa-Dias indicated the ministry is working with the federal government to obtain approval for over 750 projects submitted to the federal government under ICIP. Sousa-Dias said the province has received federal approval for nearly 400 of the more than 750 projects nominated.

Next: in August, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna announced that the federal government was implementing targeted and time-limited changes to the ICIP bilateral agreements by including a new stream to directly address the pandemic, with new eligible project categories and faster approvals.

Infrastructure Canada spokesperson Lama Khodr explained that Ontario has the flexibility to transfer up to 10 per cent of original stream allocations to the new COVID-19 Resilience stream to help mobilize their remaining funds under ICIP.

However, the amendment to the Canada-Ontario ICIP bilateral agreement is not yet signed and is currently under review.

Sousa-Dias stated in an email, “Ontario appreciates the flexibility the federal government has provided through the new Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program COVID-19 Resilience Stream and is reviewing the details of what was put forward in August to determine how best to leverage a reallocation of funds within the existing bilateral agreement. This requires signing an amended IBA for ICIP.”

Meanwhile, it is too early to tell how quickly projects will emerge from the newly announced Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) Growth Plan. Unveiled on Oct. 1, the federal government is allotting $10 billion towards new green infrastructure initiatives to be delivered by the CIB.

First off the mark under the growth plan was an Alberta irrigation project announced by the CIB.

In addition, Ontario’s Ministry of Infrastructure also has bilateral agreements in place for the Small Communities Fund and Clean Water Wastewater Fund programs, which are both now fully allocated.

 

Follow the author on Twitter @DonWall_DCN.

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