Statement by FCM President on today’s speech by Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi to the Toronto Region Board of Trade (21/01/2016)
Minister Sohi's focus on working in close collaboration with municipalities signals a new and exciting era of cooperation. On behalf of Canada's cities and communities I look forward to working in true partnership to bolster the foundations of the Canadian economy and provide wonderful, livable communities for our residents.
It is clear that Minister Sohi values the importance of a collaborative relationship with all orders of government, and we welcome this refreshing approach to building a better Canada together. We are encouraged to see a focus on public transit, affordable housing, and environmental sustainability, all key pieces to building better communities, improving quality of life, and providing the foundation for a strong economy.
We support Minister Sohi's two-phase plan to ensure that we invest in the most productive and effective way possible. Repairing and upgrading affordable housing, public transit, water systems, and other municipal infrastructure is crucial to our quality of life and to the Canadian economy. As pointed out in the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card released this week, a third of our municipal infrastructure is in need of repair and upgrade. This situation provides a timely opportunity for economic growth by giving all orders of government immediate infrastructure projects that are not only "shovel-ready", but also "shovel-worthy".
By working with municipalities on crucial short-term projects, this government is also laying the groundwork for future economic development. I welcome Minister Sohi's plan to sit down with FCM over the next year to put together a sustainable and effective long-term infrastructure plan that will continue to build our communities and improve the lives of Canadians far into the future.
The key to making a long-term infrastructure plan a success is predictable, adequate funding and proper planning. Mechanisms such as the Federal Gas Tax transfer remain the best ways to make sure local communities have the financing and planning tools they need to best serve their residents. It is also why we were pleased to hear Minister Sohi talk about working with municipal partners to ensure current funding programs are more rapid, transparent, and effective. Federal investment in municipal planning, asset management and data collection capacity are also smart investments for our future and we want to work with the government to achieve these objectives. I look forward to seeing these commitments reflected in the upcoming federal budget and getting to work with our partners to build this great country together.