Infrastructure Funding

Federal Infrastructure Funding Pre-writ Announcements

In the lead-up to the call of the 2015 federal election, the Conservative government rolled out an extensive infrastructure funding announcement plan under several of its funding programs. The majority of the announcements were made in Conservative ridings or those the party is targeting in the upcoming election.

The new Building Canada Fund, first announced in the 2013 federal budget, offers $14-billion over 10 years to infrastructure project proponents. According to the Globe and Mail, as of mid-July this year, the federal government had announced 113 projects under this fund, 94 (84%) of which are in Conservative-held ridings. Conservative ridings received 66% of the $630-million awarded to those projects.

Four additional large projects worth a combined $892-million were also announced, but were not included in the Globe’s riding analysis because they affect multiple ridings and political parties. They include a light-rail expansion project in Edmonton, the Scarborough subway extension in Toronto, a major water-treatment upgrade in Ottawa, and a highway project in Nova Scotia.

According to the Hill Times, between June 23 and August 2, 2015, more than $3.6-billion in announcements were made out of Infrastructure Canada. In Ontario alone, 64 announcements totaling almost $1.6-billion were made and related mainly to water infrastructure upgrades and road and highway reconstruction work.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also introduced the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program in May 2015 to provide $150-million over two years to 1,800 community facilities in recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. To date, Conservative ridings received one-and-a-half times more of that infrastructure fund than opposition seats did, again according to the recent Globe and Mail analysis. An average of $561,332 and six projects each went to Conservative constituencies, while opposition-held ridings received $379,337 and four projects each, according to the count.

Bypassing the Liberal Ontario government’s wish-list of infrastructure projects, this past July the federal government re-announced $18.4-million to a project for Centennial College in a Toronto-area Conservative riding. An additional $26.9-million was pledged to a new research building at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, which is located in Durham Region, where three Conservative-held ridings converge.

Some key transportation related infrastructure announcements in the days before the writ was dropped include:

  • $1 billion for Stage 2 of Ottawa’s light rail transit project,
  • $1.53 billion for the Green Line LRT and another $583 million for the southwest ring road in Calgary,
  • $63.7 million for the Iqaluit Marine Infrastructure Project,
  • $16.5 million investment in nine Asia-Pacific Gateway transportation infrastructure projects in B.C. and plans to invest
  • $102 million to support several infrastructure improvement projects for VIA Rail Canada Inc which follows the $5.8 billion announcement for infrastructure investments in VIA in November 2014.

Investments in transportation and infrastructure projects typically succeed in demonstrating tangible, visual benefits to citizens.  The Conservative government’s recent sweep of announcements are sure to garner attention in the local communities where they were made, which is certainly helpful as voters decide who will win their support come Election Day.