Address by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities

June 1, 2013
Vancouver Convention Centre
1055 Canada Place
Vancouver British Columbia



Good morning.

Thank you Claude.

Our government has worked with FCM through a historic time for our country.

We have now delivered the largest long-term infrastructure plan in Canadian history.

And all of our communities will be stronger for it.

As most of you know, at the conference two years ago, I rolled up my sleeves so we could get to work on the plan.

Last year, I was down to short sleeves.

And now that we've delivered on the plan, it's time to make a presentation.

So, I'd like to ask your President Karen Leibovici to come up to the podium.

Karen, as the saying goes…

We've been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

My friends, it's always a pleasure for me to see you all.

Many thanks to Karen, to your Executive and to everybody at the FCM, for their work through the year.

I know you have elections tomorrow and I look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with the new Executive.

I'd also like to greet the Provincial and Territorial Ministers who joined us.

And of course, I would like to thank Mayor Robertson for hosting us here in beautiful Vancouver.

I'm really proud to stand here.

This conference centre is just one example of what we can accomplish when all three levels of government work together.

And I see that many of this weekend's study tours around the area will show projects that were supported through our infrastructure programs.

No matter which community I visit, important infrastructure investments are being made, just like those being showcased this weekend.

Whether it's Yellowknife, Grand Prairie, Belleville, Trois-Rivières or St. John's, communities from coast to coast to coast are seeing the real benefits of investments in infrastructure.

This is my third conference as Minister, and looking back, all I can say is: we have accomplished a lot!

I really am thrilled to see what we've accomplished together over the last two years.

Where we have been

When I first spoke before you in 2011 I was new to this job, but not new to municipal infrastructure.

As many of you know, I am very proud of the time I spent as Mayor of Roberval

And of my time serving on the board of the Union des municipalités du Québec.

So I know I had a good idea of what we could accomplish together.

Back in 2011, we were coming out of a period of intense activity under stimulus funding.

We were celebrating great partnerships and successful infrastructure projects.

All orders of governments had been working together to identify projects that could get underway quickly and provide much-needed economic stimulus to the Canadian economy.

Moving forward to this time last year … we were about to launch the roundtable discussions for our long-term infrastructure plan engagement process.

And that made for a very busy summer.
Minister Steven Fletcher and I travelled all across the country to consult.
Over the course of 14 roundtable discussions, we listened to what you and others had to say about the broad principles for a new plan.

And the FCM was invited to every single one of those meetings.

Those meetings built on the great partnerships that our government has built, not only with the FCM, but also with individual municipalities, provinces, territories and others.

By working together, we have accomplished a lot in a very short time.

First, in 2007 there was the original $33-billion Building Canada Plan.

That was a big step. But we didn't stop there.

In 2009, we worked together to create jobs at the height of the global economic crisis, with the $4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.

But there was still more to do.

We doubled the Gas Tax Fund transfer, bringing it to $2 billion per year.

Then, in 2011 we made it permanent.

And just a few weeks ago came the crowning achievement.

In our Economic Action Plan 2013, the Harper Government delivered the longest and largest commitment to job-creating infrastructure funding in Canadian history.

Where we are: New Building Canada Plan

The numbers speak for themselves.

The overall federal investment in infrastructure will be 70 billion dollars, over ten years.

At the heart of this investment is the New Building Canada Plan.

Our plan provides 53 billion dollars for provincial, territorial and yes, municipal infrastructure.

53 billion dollars.

And most important, we will start next year.

I didn't forget.

Last year, you asked me to make sure that the new plan will be in place before the old plan ends.

And we delivered.

We won't lose a construction season.

Most important, our plan is set for 10 years.

There is no need for any more year-by-year lobbying.

So everyone here can focus on delivering infrastructure for Canadians.

The Plan includes the $14-billion Building Canada Fund, which has two parts – the National Infrastructure Component and the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component.

The National Infrastructure Component will support investments in major economic projects of national significance…

In particular, those that support job creation, economic growth and productivity.

It will focus on highways, public transit, disaster mitigation, and gateway and trade corridor-related infrastructure.

The Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component will support projects of national, regional, and local significance…

Such as highways, public transit, drinking water, wastewater, connectivity and broadband, and innovation, for example.

We've also provided another $1.25 billion over five years to renew the P3 Canada Fund.

This will continue supporting innovative ways to build infrastructure projects faster. Public-private partnerships can realize greater savings and efficiency in the delivery of much needed infrastructure projects, which will provide better value for Canadian taxpayers.

Gas Tax Fund

Of course, the biggest part of the plan is the Community Improvement Fund…

Which includes $21.8 billion for the Gas Tax Fund transfer.

This is permanent, stable predictable funding.

And there is another change…

One that has been repeatedly asked for by municipal leaders

A change that will keep it growing…
The Gas Tax Fund transfer is now indexed.

The program is also more flexible than ever before.

It will continue to support community infrastructure projects such as roads and public transit.

And we've doubled – yes doubled – the number of eligible categories.

You will now also be able to invest Gas Tax transfers in:

  • projects supporting culture, tourism, sport and recreation;
  • disaster mitigation;
  • broadband communication systems; and
  • local and regional airports.

So, we have a flexible plan that lets local councils set local priorities.

For example, many cities have focused on transit.

Thus far, more than one-quarter of the Fund has been provided to public transit projects.

That is 2 billion dollars in transit funding since 2006 – from just one program.

You know, in five of Canada largest cities, all or nearly all of the Gas Tax transfer goes toward public transit.

Other municipalities have other priorities.

More than one-quarter has gone to local roads and bridges, to date.

Sixteen per cent of the Fund has gone to water

And over 10 per cent has been used for wastewater.

Across Canada, local councils are making the right choices for their communities.

Let me be clear.

I trust your judgement.

I'm not going to impose a made-in-Ottawa strategy…

Or tell you what should be the priority in your community.

Let's recap.

You asked for more flexibility. Look at all of those new Gas Tax Fund categories!

You asked for a long-term plan. We gave you ten years.

You asked for more funding. We gave you $53 billion across those ten years.

You asked for us to index the Gas Tax Fund. That's in the new plan.

You asked not to miss a construction season. We will be ready to have agreements in place by next spring.

And I'll say that again in English.

Let's recap.

You asked for more flexibility. Look at all of those new Gas Tax Fund categories!

You asked for a long-term plan. We gave you ten years.

You asked for more funding. We gave you $53 billion across those ten years.

You asked for us to index the Gas Tax Fund. That's in the new plan.

You asked not to miss a construction season. We will be ready to have agreements in place by next spring.

Where we are going

But we are not done yet. We have exciting work ahead.

In fact, just this morning I had a very productive meeting with your Executive Committee on issues that matter to Municipalities.

I am also working with our provincial and territorial partners to renew the Gas Tax Fund agreements as soon as possible.

We will also finalize the parameters of the New Building Canada Fund.

Many of the comments we have already received from you will help us with the remaining details.

A spirit of cooperation has taken us a long way…

And it will be even more essential as we go forward.

We have worked shoulder-to-shoulder to develop a long-term infrastructure plan that meets the needs of Canadians.

And I look forward to continuing to work with you as we deliver the New Building Canada Plan.

Congratulations on another successful conference, and best of luck in your discussions.

Thank you.

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