2016–17 Departmental Results Report

Operating context and key risks

Operating context

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.

Through the Investing in Canada plan, the Government of Canada is making historic new investments in infrastructure to build the cities of the 21st century and provide communities across the country with the tools they need to innovate and prosper. To do this, the federal government is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in 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 continues to receive special attention, as Infrastructure Canada continues to oversee the New Champlain Bridge Corridor project and support the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority in advancing the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

Infrastructure Canada works with many partners, including provinces, territories and municipalities, as the majority of its programs are cost-shared with other levels of government. Once federal funding is known and committed, parties can plan and prioritize work. In general, a number of pre-planning activities must take place before actual construction of an infrastructure project gets underway. As a result, there may be a lag between when the funding was committed to actual project start date. The Department's infrastructure programs are currently designed in a way that funds flow from Infrastructure Canada based on requests for reimbursements.

Key risks

Infrastructure Canada applies a comprehensive approach to identify, assess and manage risks at the strategic, operational, program and project levels. This includes conducting regular environmental scans with the direct participation of senior management. The table below provides an overview of key corporate risks and the results of risk response strategies. As in previous years, the Department has reviewed and updated risks in the context of emerging environmental risk factors and progress made by implementing risk responses.


Mitigating strategy and effectiveness

Link to the Department's programs

Link to mandate letter commitments or to government-wide and departmental priorities

Timely delivery of the New Champlain Bridge Corridor project

To ensure the timely delivery of the new Champlain Bridge, Infrastructure Canada continued to oversee the Public-Private-Partnership Project Agreement with the Signature on the Saint Lawrence Group. Specific measures included:

  • Close monitoring of the project to ensure that the private partner conducts the work as agreed under the terms of the Project Agreement;
  • Day-to-day management of the project;
  • Using the established interdepartmental governance structure to provide strategic direction; and
  • Making timely decisions to address operational issues and resolve problems as they arise.

PAA Program 1.6 New Bridge for the St. Lawrence Corridor project

Mandate letter commitment to move forward on a toll-free replacement for the Champlain Bridge

Departmental Priority 2 as stated in the 2016-17 Report on Plans and Priorities

Sufficient capacity for the effective delivery of new funding related to the Government's long-term infrastructure plan and the New Building Canada Fund (including program enhancements) might not be maintained due to constrained operating budgets

Employees who administer sunsetting programs were also assigned to new programs, which are designed and administered in close collaboration with provinces and territories. The Department entered into contribution agreements with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to deliver two new programs. Finally, new teams were created to advance the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Smart Cities Challenge. These teams report directly to the Deputy Minister.

We achieved efficiencies in program delivery by adopting a full project lifecycle approach and streamlining the Project Review Panel process. Positive best practices were also adopted. Having analysts focus exclusively on specific programs has resulted in increased knowledge and information sharing, which in turn, has resulted in better decision-making.

PAA Program 1.3 Investments in National Infrastructure Priorities

PAA Program 1.4 Large-Scale Infrastructure Investments

PAA Program 1.5 Infrastructure Investments in Small Communities and Rural Areas

Mandate letter commitment to develop a long-term plan to deliver significant new infrastructure funding to provinces, territories and municipalities

Departmental Priority 1 as stated in the 2016-17 Report on Plans and Priorities

Timely delivery of services and solutions within the Department to support internal business pressures while contributing to current and future large-scale, whole-of-government initiatives

Infrastructure Canada ensured that it had adequate resources to deliver timely Information Management/Information Technology, Communication Services, Human Resources, Finance and other enabling services, in support of new and ongoing business requirements. In particular, the Department continued to foster a strong relationship with Shared Services Canada and Public Services and Procurement Canada, and to regularly inform employees about change.

The Department's governance structure is uniquely accessible to all employees, allowing for problems to be identified and addressed more efficiently.

The Department's planning mechanisms evolved to strengthen the linkages between the Mandate letter, the Departmental Plan, the Integrated Business Plan and employees' Performance Management Agreements.

In response to the new Policy on Results, the Department started the development of a Departmental Reporting Framework.

Internal Services

Departmental Priority 4 as stated in the 2016-17 Report on Plans and Priorities

Timely request for approvals of the required Government Authorities to advance the Gordie Howe International Bridge project

When the Request for Proposal process is concluded and a private sector partner is selected, Treasury Board authority will be required prior to entering into a contract.

To mitigate possible delays, Infrastructure Canada and the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority have developed a project schedule to manage the steps and timelines leading up to the signing of the P3 contract.

PAA Program 1.4 Large-Scale Infrastructure Investments

Departmental Priority 3 as stated in the 2016-17 Report on Plans and Priorities

Other risk control measures

One of Infrastructure Canada's key risk control measures related to implementing transfer payment programs is the Project Review Panel (PRP). The PRP provides assurance to the Deputy Minister and the Minister that, for each project within the Minister's delegated authority, an independent challenge function is performed by senior management (and two independent external members). It also provides assurance that the authority for the Minister to proceed without Treasury Board approval is documented and fully justified. The PRP supports the Department in its need for rigorous due diligence and efficient and effective program management and delivery. The PRP has demonstrated its capacity to review, perform its challenge function and either send back or recommend for approval a large number of projects within a short period of time. A project is typically reviewed by the PRP at two stages: first, to recommend the project to the Minister for approval-in-principle, and second, before the legally binding contribution agreement is signed.

In 2016-17, there were 60 PRP meetings held with the following results:

  • 118 projects were recommended for approval-in-principle under the Building Canada Fund – Major Infrastructure Component and the New Building Canada Fund – Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component - National and Regional Projects;
  • 215 projects were recommended under the New Building Canada Fund – Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – Small Communities Fund;
  • 955 projects were recommended under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund;
  • 896 projects were recommended under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund;
  • and 11 projects were reviewed and recommended that required Treasury Board approval through a streamlined process.

For the majority of its programs, Infrastructure Canada enters into an agreement that includes a maximum federal contribution, which is used to reimburse eligible project costs after they are incurred and paid by the recipient or when specific progress have been achieved on program delivery. This essential risk control measure reinforces the Department's accountability in cases where a project may be cancelled or undergo a change that affects its budget. This impacts the results presented in this report in two ways:

  • When funding recipients experience delays in completing projects or submitting claims, Infrastructure Canada's ability to meet its planned spending for a fiscal year is negatively impacted.
  • When funded projects go over budget, they contribute to surpassing the Department's targets for leveraging funds from other levels of government.

As these instances occur with some frequency in the results tables presented in this report, it is important to understand their link to this key risk control measure.

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