The federal budget tabled March 22 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau confirms that the government will make a historic investment of $120 billion over the next decade on infrastructure.

As an immediate first step, the government will invest nearly $12 billion over five years in modern and reliable public transit, water and wastewater systems, affordable housing, and in retrofits and repairs to protect existing projects from the effects of climate change.

In the coming months, the government will lay out its longer-term priorities for renewing and modernizing Canada’s infrastructure.

Under the plan:

  • $3.4 billion will be spent over three years to upgrade and improve public transit systems across Canada;
  • $5 billion will be spent over five years for investments in water, wastewater and green infrastructure projects across Canada; and
  • $3.4 billion will be spent over five years for social infrastructure, including affordable housing, early learning and childcare, cultural and recreational infrastructure, and community healthcare facilities on reserves.

The Department of Finance estimates that these and other measures announced in the budget will raise the level of real gross domestic product by 0.5 per cent in the first year and by one per cent in the second year.

In addition to the new funding announced in the budget, the government will:

  • Continue to make available approximately $3 billion each year in dedicated funding for municipal infrastructure projects through the Gas Tax Fund and the incremental Goods and Services Tax Rebate for Municipalities;
  • Work with provincial, territorial and municipal partners to get projects underway, by accelerating spending from the $9 billion available under the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component and other existing infrastructure programs;
  • Transfer remaining uncommitted funds from older federal infrastructure programs to municipalities through the Gas Tax Fund in 2016–17 in order to ensure funds are directed towards municipal infrastructure priorities in the near term; and
  • Ensure that government institutions are aligned to best support infrastructure innovation, including by transferring responsibility for PPP Canada Inc. to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

The budget also proposes to provide $3.4 billion over the next five years to maintain and upgrade federal infrastructure assets such as national parks, small craft harbours, federal airports and border infrastructure. This funding will also support the cleanup of contaminated sites across the country.

Meanwhile, the government also promised in the budget to strengthen union-based apprenticeship training by providing $85.4 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to develop a new framework to support union-based apprenticeship training.

As well as improving the quality of training through investments in equipment, the framework will seek to incorporate greater union involvement in apprenticeship training and support innovative approaches and partnerships with other stakeholders, including employers.