CPWA Ottawa Report

March 29, 2021

The next edition of the Ottawa Report is scheduled to be sent April 12, 2021.

Latest News
 

Auditor General Tables Report on Investing in Canada Plan
On March 25, Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled a report in the House of Commons indicating that Infrastructure Canada was unable to provide meaningful public reporting on whether the Investing in Canada Plan was meeting its objectives. The audit found that the department’s reporting did not include programs that predate the creation of the Investing in Canada Plan, even though they account for almost half of the plan’s $188‑billion commitment. Reporting on the plan’s progress was also affected by inconsistent information provided by federal partner organizations. Infrastructure Canada’s reporting captured only some programs each year, and year‑over‑year reporting did not reflect comparable results nor provide a complete picture of the plan’s overall results.

Government Announces Date of Budget 2021
On March 23, the Government of Canada announced the date of Budget 2021. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will present Budget 2021 in the House of Commons on April 19, 2021, at approximately 4:00 p.m. E.T. This will be the first federal budget in over two years, the longest time between budgets in Canadian history, due entirely to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vote in the House of Commons on the budget will be a confidence vote, giving the opportunity for all the opposition parties to collectively decide the government no longer has the confidence of the House, thereby triggering an election.

Prime Minister Announces Changes to Parliamentary Secretaries
On March 19, Prime Minister Trudeau announced changes to the team of parliamentary secretaries. Several parliamentary secretaries are newly appointed or taking on new responsibilities. Andy Fillmore remains Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

Closure of Canada-U.S. Border Extended
On March 18, following agreement with the Government of Canada, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that the border between Canada and the U.S. would remain closed to all but essential land-based travel until Wednesday, April 21, 2021. This date is subject to extension. Requirements in place at the border can be found at https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid.


Legislation
 

The House of Commons is adjourned until Monday, April 12, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. ET. The Senate of Canada is sitting through Thursday, April 1, 2021.

Deputy Prime Minister Introduces Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
On March 25, Bill C-25, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, to authorize certain payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and to amend another Act, was introduced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. This Bill provides additional support to provincial, territorial and municipal governments, totaling $7.2 billion, to offset the extraordinary costs of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed funding includes:
  • $4 billion through the Canada Health Transfer to help provinces and territories address immediate health care system pressures, including addressing backlogs in access to care as the pandemic continues.
  • $1 billion as a one-time payment to the provinces and territories to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out continues to accelerate and keeps pace with growing supply, and does not encounter any delays.
  • $2.2 billion to address short-term infrastructure priorities in municipalities and First Nations communities. The funds would flow through the federal Gas Tax Fund.
    • The federal government also proposes to rename the federal Gas Tax Fund as the Canada Community-Building Fund.

Committee Activities
 

House Finance Committee Reports Bill C-14 Without Amendment
On March 24, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance reported Bill C-14, Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020 to the House without Amendment.

House Environment Committee Undertakes Study on Bill C-204
On March 15, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development undertook its study of Bill C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste). This Private Member’s Bill would amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 to prohibit the export of certain types of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal.


Departmental Updates
 

Canada Infrastructure Bank Launches Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative
On March 19, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced the launch of the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative (ICII), which will enable the building of new infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities. As part of the ICII, the CIB will tailor its innovative, low-interest and long-term financing to provide loans of at least $5 million for up to 80% of total project capital cost. Community-based revenue-generating projects can be from any of the CIB’s priority sectors: green infrastructure, clean power, broadband, public transit and trade and transportation.

Infrastructure Minister Launches Public Engagement on National Infrastructure Assessment
On March 16, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna launched an Engagement Paper on Canada’s first National Infrastructure Assessment. The engagement paper, Building the Canada We Want in 2050, sets out the purpose and benefits of undertaking a National Infrastructure Assessment and seeks input from the public, Indigenous Peoples, provinces, territories, municipalities, and stakeholders on three main priorities of the assessment:
  • Assessing Canada’s infrastructure needs and establishing a long-term vision;
  • Improving coordination among infrastructure owners and funders; and
  • Determining the best ways to fund and finance infrastructure.