March 19, 2019
Budget 2019 Infrastructure Commitments include Rural High-Speed Internet and Municipal Top-Up Funds
A multi-billion-dollar commitment to help spur high-speed internet infrastructure in rural communities and a one-time top-up for municipalities and Indigenous communities to get projects built faster are among the infrastructure-related highlights in the Government of Canada’s 2019 Budget.
The budget, tabled today and titled Investing in the Middle Class, largely focused on bread and butter issues for Canadians such as the creation of the Canadian Drug Agency to negotiate better prescription drug prices, adding a grace period to the federal portion of student loans, and savings to help first-time home buyers enter the real estate market.
In 2015-16, the government spent approximately $8 billion on infrastructure. With the introduction of the Investing in Canada Plan, the level of investment grew to $14.3 billion in 2018-19. Over the next nine years, the plan will invest an average of more than $16 billion per year, the budget noted.
The infrastructure-related budget items include:
- A one-time transfer of $2.2 billion through the federal Gas Tax Fund to address short-term priorities in municipalities and First Nation communities facing serious infrastructure deficits. Eligible projects include such items as roads, public transit and local airports.
Municipal Asset Management Capacity Fund
- $60 million in 2018-19 towards FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Capacity Fund to help small communities get skills training on how to inventory, grow and maintain infrastructure assets over five years.
- $5 billion to $6 billion in new investments over the next 10 years to help deliver universal high-speed internet to every Canadian involving partners in the private sector and across all levels of government.
- New investments by the Canada Infrastructure Bank to further leverage private sector investment;
- Up to $1.7 billion over 13 years, starting in 2019–20, to establish a new national high-speed internet program, the Universal Broadband Fund;
- Working to maximize the contribution of private capital, the bank will seek to invest $1 billion over the next 10 years, and leverage at least $2 billion in additional private sector investment to increase broadband access for Canadians.
Canada Infrastructure Bank
- The budget also noted that the Canada Infrastructure Bank has identified clean hydroelectricity and electrical connectivity infrastructure as areas it will look to support in its upcoming work plans. This includes projects that improve interconnections between provincial electricity grids. The bank has been allocated $5 billion for investments in green infrastructure, which could include electricity projects such as interties between provinces and territories.
- An additional $739 million over five years, beginning in 2019–20, with $184.9 million per year ongoing to support efforts to eliminate and prevent long-term drinking water advisories. This funding is for urgent repairs to vulnerable water systems and providing water operator training and support programs, so First Nations communities can effectively operate and maintain their public drinking water systems.
- $12.8 million earmarked to Natural Resources Canada to support Indigenous economic participation in major energy and resource projects.
- A further $18 million, over three years, starting in 2019-20, to support planning by the Government of Northwest Territories for its proposed Taltson hydroelectricity expansion project.
- Together with contributions from the Government of Nunavut and Inuit partners, the government will support the construction and ongoing operation of a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility in Nunavut.
Housing Supply & Affordability
- $300 million to launch a new Housing Supply Challenge to help municipalities grow housing supply and unlock new solutions for Canadians searching for an affordable place to call home. Infrastructure Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will collaborate on the design of the Challenge, with further details to follow by summer 2019.
- $4 million investment over two years by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to support the work of the recently announced Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability.
- $5 million over two years by CMHC for state-of-the-art housing supply modelling and related data collection. This would support the work of the panel and help ensure that future investments by all levels of government are put to their best possible use.
Skilled Trades Support
- $40 million over four years, starting in 2020-21, and $10 million per year ongoing for Skills Canada to encourage more young people to consider training and work in the skilled trades.
- $6 million over two years, starting in 2019–20, to create a national campaign to promote the skilled trades as a first-choice career for young people.
The full 2019 federal budget can be accessed at https://www.budget.gc.ca/2019/docs/plan/budget-2019-en.pdf