The Honourable Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate
March 2, 2017
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative with respect to infrastructure.
Various stakeholders in the North and remote regions are concerned that the proposed infrastructure bank may not be a suitable vehicle for financing infrastructure projects in Canada’s northern and remote regions due to their relatively smaller economies of scale. We are still awaiting clarification as to how this infrastructure bank might work in the more remote regions of Canada.
Will the government be structuring the infrastructure bank to include concessional elements, essentially grants, for projects of a smaller scale in order to make relatively smaller projects viable?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I can report that the government is in a consultative phase with respect to the mandate and the way in which this bank will operate. I will raise with the appropriate ministers the concerns that you have raised by your question to ensure they are addressed in this broader consultative period.
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on March 2, 2017)
As noted in Budget 2017, the Canada Infrastructure Bank will make strategic investments, with a focus on transformative projects. Whether the Bank also makes investments in smaller projects, or bundles of smaller projects, would depend, in part, on how public sponsors of projects, such as provinces, territories and municipalities, choose to structure projects and whether there is a market for attracting private sector investment into those projects. Project sponsors and private sector investors will have to determine whether smaller projects can be bundled to be of a sufficient scale to justify costs associated with the investment, such as due diligence and legal costs.
The Bank would only be one tool in the Government’s Investing in Canada plan. Because rural and northern communities have unique infrastructure needs that require a more targeted approach, Budget 2017 indicated that the Government will invest $2.0 billion over 11 years to support a broad range of infrastructure projects, to be allocated to provinces and territories on a base plus per capita allocation basis. In addition, smaller communities will have access to green, trade and transport, culture and recreational categories, as well as ongoing Gas Tax funding.