National Summative Evaluation of the Gas Tax Fund and Public Transit Fund - 5.0 Recommendations

5.0 Recommendations

The recommendations pertain exclusively to the GTF since the PTF is a sunsetting program. Recommendations focus on continuing improvements and adapting to circumstances with a viewing to enhancing the success of this highly regarded program. The findings submitted have shown that issues arising through the course of the joint evaluations could be addressed in the extension of the GTF, within the existing terms and conditions for the program.

5.1 Facilitate sharing of best practices to address the capacity issues of smaller recipients

Over 2,900 GTF recipients have a population of less than 5,000 inhabitants. To address the capacity issues raised, some of the existing program design features could be put to greater use, such as banking, leveraging, and pooling of funds. Some jurisdictions have built in provisions in their agreements, either dedicated funds for regional initiatives or required use of funds for regional initiatives, and these could be included in other agreements with Canada. Another impact of these provisions is to promote increased collaboration between local governments, and local governments and First Nations, wherever deemed applicable. Some jurisdictions have set a base or floor amount for GTF funding for smaller recipients to ensure that significant projects could be put in place and this could be a venue to consider in the extension of the agreements with Canada.

Specific support toward capacity building initiatives through a dedicated portion of the funds could be included in the extension agreements or through amendments, such as those approved for Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

The reporting and auditing review has also identified different models put in place to address the specific circumstances, in particular that of smaller-scale recipients: a risk-based approach to auditing could be further explored at the provincial and territorial levels as well as the issues linked to the scarce auditing resources in some areas. Canada should pursue its support for these initiatives as it has in the past.

Canada should facilitate information sharing amongst the provinces and territories so that they may adapt their delivery mechanisms and reporting schemes to address the capacity issues of smaller recipients.

5.2 Continue to support outcomes reporting

The GTF program is not just about funding municipal infrastructure. It is about funding sustainable municipal infrastructure that will contribute to cleaner air, cleaner water, and reduced GHG emissions. Outcomes' reporting is essential to demonstrate that completed projects are producing the expected results.

Though there have been many activities and initiatives to develop the Performance Measurement Framework and its associated indicators, collecting relevant data remains a challenge that will require continued efforts.

Under the present agreements, the signatories have committed to one Outcomes Report in 2009 and to report "periodically thereafter." This condition should be reviewed and clarified in light of the expected program extension to 2014.

5.3 Continue to support long-term sustainable municipal planning

Many features of the existing GTF program focus on long-term sustainable municipal planning. Specifically, most agreements require that an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan be completed within the lifetime of an agreement. This condition will have to be reviewed in the context of the extension, while taking into consideration provincial and territorial legislation and initiatives.

5.4 Review and simplify the requirements for capital spending commitments

Reporting on capital spending commitments under the Agreements should be reviewed in order to clarify and simplify this requirement. The extension of the Agreements offers an opportunity to review the mechanisms for accounting and reporting on capital spending commitments.

5.5 Improve communications of the program's results

Infrastructure Canada has already begun to address this issue and should pursue the implementation of its GTF awareness strategy in conjunction with the signatories to the agreements.

Publication of an Annual GTF Report should be pursued as a means of communicating the program's results. The communications protocol should continue to be reviewed in light of the evaluation findings. Specifically, Infrastructure Canada should address the objectives and expectations for communications in order to ensure that appropriate resources are available to satisfy these.

The role of the communications delivery partners' network should be examined and reinforced as a means of fostering increased communications of the GTF program results.

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