Over the past five years, PSAC has expressed concern over the wasteful and ineffective Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). Now, a private member’s bill seeks to overhaul the program and fix many of its biggest flaws.
The original concept for the CIB was to provide low-cost public borrowing so that other levels of government could address critical infrastructure needs like affordable housing and electric vehicle charging stations.
Instead, this 2015 Liberal election promise became a vehicle for privatization and public-private partnerships (P3s), which we know result in higher costs and poorer services, with the government still taking on all the risk if the private contractor fails.
Billions of dollars have been poured into the CIB by the federal government with little to show for it. Only 13 projects have been announced, with just one in progress – a P3 transit system in Montreal that has just been brought back into the public sector after the partnership failed . The leadership of the CIB has changed repeatedly, and announcements have been made about new directions or new programs, but no real successes have been seen.
That’s why Bill C-245, a private member’s bill to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank, is so important. It promises to remove the privatization aspect while still providing low-cost financing to other levels of government, including Indigenous communities.
- Write your MP and ask them to vote in favour of C-245
A publicly funded Infrastructure Bank could benefit all levels of government in Canada if properly structured and funded. Municipalities, provinces and territories and First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities would be able to access financing without being at the whim of corporations or high-interest loans.
The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities recently issued a report on its study of the CIB, with one recommendation – that the CIB be abolished. While that may seem beneficial at first glance, it doesn’t help to get infrastructure projects off the ground.
But passing C-245 would ensure that currently approved projects are assumed by the federal government and continue development, which would be a way to ensure communities continue to receive the support they need.
While efforts to change the CIB have so far failed, the government can still correct its historic mistake. Take action now to ensure this important bill gets the support it deserves.