ARCHIVED - Building for Prosperity: Public Infrastructure in Canada - Building a Better Canada Together

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Building a Better Canada Together

Our Collaborative Approach

Net Stock of Public Capital Share 2009

Net Stock of Public Capital Share 2009

Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Capital and Repair Expenditures. Core Public Infrastructure (Water, wastewater, recreation, culture, transit, roads, bridges)

All orders of government in Canada recognize the importance of sound public infrastructure and the contribution it makes to a stronger economy, an improved quality of life and a cleaner environment. In recent years, Canadians have seen the benefits of the historic infrastructure investments that the federal government, provinces, territories and municipalities have been making.

In Canada, municipalities play a leading role in managing and operating this infrastructure. In fact, municipalities own nearly two thirds of Canada’s core public infrastructure. In effect, provincial, territorial and municipal governments build, operate, maintain, rehabilitate and replace most public infrastructure in Canada.

When the Building Canada Plan was launched in 2007, it marked a new era for infrastructure partnership funding – and a new relationship among all orders of government. The Plan was the result of engagement and discussions with provinces and territories, as well as the municipal sector. The intent was to identify an approach to provide federal funding for provincial, territorial and municipal public infrastructure in a way that was more predictable and long term in nature. Given the relative responsibilities of each order of government, the approach developed to support public infrastructure was based heavily on the principle of partnership.

While all governments helped restore infrastructure investments the last few years,
we also saw fundamental reforms to the infrastructure funding system itself.
Longer-term planning, more efficient programs and a growing emphasis on repairs and
rehabilitation – these are essential building blocks for solving our infrastructure problems once and for all.


– Pat Fiacco, Mayor of Regina, Saskatchewan, January 2011

The Building Canada Plan also laid the foundation for the strong partnership that was needed to mobilize quickly and respond to the global economic slowdown that hit in late 2008. On January 27, 2009, in the 2009 Budget, the Government of Canada announced that it would implement new short-term stimulus programs as part of its Economic Action Plan; success would require the strong collaboration of its partners.

The results of the Economic Action Plan are a clear testament to the high degree of cooperation shown by all orders of government across Canada, as efforts were successfully made to identify construction-ready projects, cut red tape and streamline project approvals.

These results are not just limited to the Economic Action Plan. As provinces, territories and municipalities moved forward with record amounts of public infrastructure investments, the Government of Canada provided the necessary financial support. In fact, as is seen in the chart below, federal contributions and other transfer payments for public infrastructure nearly tripled over the past five years, making these increased investments possible. The majority of these funds have been provided through Infrastructure Canada, including nearly 75 percent in 2010-11.

Federal Infrastructure Funding Support for Provincial, Territorial and
Municipal InfrastructureLink to the footnote 1* (Current $B)

Federal Infrastructure Funding Support for Provincial, Territorial and Municipal Infrastructure* (Current $B)

Source: Finance Canada & Infrastructure Canada, June 2011

* All public infrastructure, including Core Public Infrastructure

Over the past 10 years, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, with the funding support from the Government of Canada, have been working to address public infrastructure needs across the country. After remaining relatively stable throughout the 1980s and 1990s, investments in provincial, territorial and municipal assets increased rapidly over the last decade. The chart below shows the increase in investment in municipally-owned, core public infrastructure (the green line) as well as a similar increase in investments in provincial and territorial assets (the red line).

Investments into Core Public InfrastructureLink to the footnote 2* (Constant $B)

Investments into Core Public Infrastructure* (Current $B)

Source: Statistics Canada, August 2011

* Includes bridges, roads, water, wastewater, transit, plus cultural and recreational facilities

Municipalities are turning stimulus money from Ottawa into new jobs by matching federal investments dollar for dollar and managing thousands of front-line projects across the country. It shows that some challenges are too big for any one government to solve on its own.

– Gérald Tremblay, Mayor of Montréal, Quebec, May 27, 2010
Date modified: