CPWA Ottawa Report

March 1, 2021
The next edition of the Ottawa Report is scheduled to be sent March 15, 2021.

Latest News


CPWA Discusses Public Policy Priorities with Chair of House Public Safety Committee
On February 22, CPWA President Patty Podoborozny, CEO Scott Grayson and Director of Canadian Government Affairs Anne Jackson met virtually with the Honourable John McKay, Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Securityto discuss CPWA’s 2021 Public Policy Priorities.A primary focus of the meeting was the role of public works in emergency preparedness and response.

Guidance on Vaccine Prioritization Updated and Health Canada Approves Additional Vaccines
On February 12, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) updated its Guidance on the prioritization of key populations for COVID-19 immunization. The guidance outlines key populations in each of three stages. Stage 2 includes first responders (e.g., police, firefighters) and frontline essential workers who cannot work virtually. Frontline is defined as “having direct close physical contact with the public.” On February 26, Health Canada authorized two COVID-19 vaccines: the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, and the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Conservative Party Leader Announces Updates to the Conservative Shadow Cabinet
On February 10, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole announced updates to the Conservative Shadow Cabinet. The updates reflect the Conservative Party’s focus on rebuilding the economy.

Prime Minister Announces New Public Transit Investments
On February 10, Prime Minister Trudeau announced $14.9 billion for public transit projects over the next eight years, which includes permanent funding of $3 billion per year for Canadian communities beginning in 2026-27. The permanent funding is aspirational as there is no guarantee the Liberal government will be in office in 2026-27. However, it sends a political signal for a minority government eyeing an opportunity for an election sometime in 2021.


Legislation


The House of Commons is adjourned until Monday, March 8, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. ET. The Senate of Canada is adjourned until Tuesday, March 16, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. E.T.


Committee Activities


House Transport Committee Launches Canada Infrastructure Bank Study
On February 23, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities commenced a study of the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). On February 25, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna testified before the Committee, along with several senior departmental officials.

House Finance Committee Releases Pre-Budget Report
On February 16, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance released its Pre-Budget Report, Investing in Tomorrow: Canadian Priorities for Economic Growth and Recovery. The report includes the following recommendations of note:
  • Recommendation 63 Support Canadian municipalities by:
    • providing enhanced funding to maintain municipal assets in a state of good repair and committing to invest in infrastructure at the level that was planned prior to the COVID-19 crisis as well as consider maximizing any investments given the current pandemic
    • reinstating the National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure
    • developing more opportunities to partner with municipalities directly through programs, including scaling up proven federal programs that support municipalities
  • Recommendation 66As part of the economic recovery, accelerate investments in infrastructure for fighting climate change, particularly investments in public transportation.
  • Recommendation 67Expand the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.
  • Recommendation 69Invest in infrastructure, particularly into those that promote walking and cycling.
Special House Canada-U.S. Relations Committee Established
On February 16, the House of Commons passed a motion to establish a new House of Commons Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States. The Committee will evaluate bilateral concerns, including the United States government’s “Buy America” procurement rules and the economic impacts of the U.S. rescission of the Keystone XL pipeline permit.

Departmental Updates


Natural Resources Minister Announces Growing Canada’s Forests Program
On February 19, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. announced the next step in the Government of Canada’s commitment to plant two billion trees: the Growing Canada’s Forests Program. The Government of Canada is launching two initiatives to seek information on organizations with immediate access to land or trees and those who are interested in collaborating on tree planting initiatives to help Canada realize its 10-year target:
  • The Future Participants Request for Information is an opportunity for organizations to share their vision and capacity to contribute to large-scale, single- or multi-year tree planting projects across Canada. The information received will help facilitate collaboration with various partners on future tree-planting projects. Response forms will be accepted until May 27, 2021.
  • The Early Start Projects Expression of Interest will help identify new, shovel-ready tree planting projects across Canada for the 2021 growing season. Eligible organizations will be required to demonstrate that they have access to trees and land as well as proven capacity and experience in delivering large, cost-shared tree planting projects that would result in at least 5,000 new, planted trees this year. This includes monitoring tree survival and reporting on project outcomes starting this spring. The health and safety of workers and communities involved in tree planting is an important consideration, and projects will be required to comply with COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Organizations have until March 25, 2021, to submit their Expression of Interest.
Infrastructure Minister Announces Canada Healthy Communities Initiative Application Intake
On February 9, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announced the launch of the first application intake for projects under the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI). The Government of Canada will fund eligible projects that fall under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions. CHCI projects could include widening sidewalks and adding signage to support physical distancing in busy areas; building pop-up lanes for bikes, scooters, and personal mobility devices to allow people to move around their communities safely; or developing apps or other digital tools to allow residents to safely access services remotely.

Applicants can apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 for eligible projects, within an overall envelope of $31 million in federal government funding. Local governments and a variety of community-led organizations are eligible to apply. The application period for the first round of funding will close on March 9, 2021 at 5:00PM PST.