Departmental Plan - Operating Context: Conditions Affecting Our Work

Canadians recognize the value of high-quality infrastructure. They know that improved infrastructure can generate long-term economic and social benefits for their communities. Climate change, emerging technologies, increasing urbanization, evolving social and capital needs, and challenges in rural and northern communities influence the kind of infrastructure needed in the 21st century. These external factors drive the need for a comprehensive long-term infrastructure plan.

In 2016, the Government of Canada laid the foundation for a new long-term plan with immediate investments focused on improving and modernizing the country's most critical infrastructure. Additional investments announced in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement, will focus on five key areas: public transit; green infrastructure; social infrastructure; trade and transportation infrastructure; and rural and northern communities. To align with the new investments, Infrastructure Canada has made changes to its existing transfer payment programs to make them more flexible and responsive. Critical trade infrastructure will continue to receive special attention, as Infrastructure Canada continues to oversee the New Champlain Bridge Corridor project and to support the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority to advance the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

The Government of Canada is committed to instill a culture of measurement, evaluation and innovation in program and policy design and delivery. Accordingly, Infrastructure Canada will experiment with new approaches in delivering federal infrastructure initiatives through the Investing in Canada plan and to explore ways to address key barriers and challenges to the adoption of innovation in the infrastructure realm. For example, Infrastructure Canada will work closely with partners to develop integrated and flexible bilateral funding agreements. Whereas past approaches encompassed the delivery of various federal programs with several different project eligibility criteria, these integrated bilateral agreements will streamline the Department's programming to deliver long-term funding to provinces and territories that would be both flexible and responsive to regional-specific needs while advancing national objectives. The Canada Infrastructure Bank represents another innovative approach as it would be a new kind of institution in Canada. The Bank would be responsible for executing complex infrastructure deals using a wide range of financial instruments. Another example of Infrastructure Canada's experimentation and innovation is the Smart Cities Challenge, a transfer payment program that calls for open policy-making and the co-creation of ambitious plans in partnership with stakeholders, civil society, citizens and other governments with a view to improving the quality of life for urban residents, through better city planning and implementation of clean, digitally connected technology including greener buildings, smart roads and energy systems, and advanced digital connectivity for homes and businesses.

In addition, in support of the Government of Canada's Innovation Agenda, Infrastructure Canada will engage with other partners (including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities) to explore ways to: boost innovation in smart technologies and new materials that would enable Canada's construction sector to increase productivity; provide more cost-effective and sustainable solutions to address infrastructure needs; and improve procurement and asset management practices.

Reporting, audit and evaluation processes will be put in place to measure the impact of the experimental initiatives that Infrastructure Canada will be undertaking.

Clear outcomes with measurable performance indicators and targets will be established in order to monitor the progress and communicate real results achieved to Canadians. The achievement of federal outcomes is dependent on our key partners delivering on their responsibilities, including provinces, territories and municipalities. In addition, there will be a need for greater collaboration across the federal government to provide consistent information and tell the story of infrastructure investments to Canadians about how these investments are building stronger communities. To this end, Infrastructure Canada will collaborate with federal departments and agencies, all orders of government and other strategic partners whose activities complement those of the Department to refine the performance measures of all its programs to be more outcomes-based.

To achieve the ambitious scope of the Department's plans, Infrastructure Canada will continue to support a healthy and respectful work environment where employees can thrive.

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