The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance
Transparency needed to ensure federal infrastructure program’s value
July 6, 2017
Ottawa – The federal government’s new infrastructure program needs to be open to scrutiny and have rules everyone understands to ensure Canadians get the best value for their money, the Senate Committee on National Finance said in a report released Thursday.
The report, Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability and Predictability in Federal Infrastructure Programs, calls on the government to publicly release all data on infrastructure projects that are approved for funding, except for cases where national defence and security are involved. The committee believes infrastructure spending can only be evaluated when data about each project can be compared. It therefore hired a software consultant to create a database that incorporates all the available data on the projects approved so far.
The result is a document that puts in one place all the information on every infrastructure project in Canada that has been approved by the federal government since April 2016. This document encompasses 6,194 projects representing $13 billion in federal funding. Because the federal government has assigned 32 different departments to approve funding for projects, committee members believe this is the only document to house all of this data in one place.
This is the committee’s second interim report on the design and delivery of the government’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure funding program. It makes seven recommendations aimed at improving the government’s infrastructure program.
The committee urges the government to create a national infrastructure strategy with clear priorities, concrete objectives and specific performance measures. This strategy should take into consideration municipal, provincial and territorial priorities as well.
In 2016, the Senate authorized its finance committee to study and report on the design and implementation of the infrastructure funding program. The committee’s final report is due in June 2018.
- In its 2017-18 budget, the federal government outlined plans to invest $186.7 billion over 12 years in infrastructure projects.
- It also announced that the creation of a Canada Infrastructure Bank will oversee $35 billion, of which $15 billion will be drawn from the infrastructure plan.
- The federal government announced $11.6 billion in support of new projects in 2016-17; the government claims this will boost economic activity by 0.5%.
“Canadians pay for infrastructure projects with their hard-earned tax dollars. They deserve to know their government is delivering the biggest bang for their buck. Transparent, accountable and predictable investments should be at the heart of this — and any — public infrastructure spending.”
- Senator Percy Mockler, Chair of the committee
“Great social capital can be built through public infrastructure investments. When the government spends public funds for infrastructure, it is desirous that Canadians see the public benefit. Transit, environmental and social projects improve the quality of life for Canadians to the same degree as they stimulate job creation and economic growth.”
- Senator Anne C. Cools, Deputy Chair of the committee
Consult the list to see what has been approved in your region
- Read the committee’s first interim report, Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Achieving infrastructure success.
- Follow the committee on social media using the hashtag #NFFN.
- Sign up for the Senate’s eNewsletter.
For more information, please contact:
Senate of Canada
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