CPWA Ottawa Report

April 26, 2021

The next edition of the Ottawa Report is scheduled to be sent May 10, 2021.

Latest News


Deputy Prime Minister Releases Budget 2021
On April 19, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland released Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience. At over 700 pages, Budget 2021 is the longest budget document in Canadian history – and the first since the Liberal government was re-elected in October of 2019, the longest period between budgets in Canadian history.

As part of A Healthy Environment for a Healthy Economy, Budget 2021 proposes to:
  • Provide $1.4 billion over 12 years, starting in 2021-22, to Infrastructure Canada to top up the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, to support projects such as wildfire mitigation activities, rehabilitation of storm water systems, and restoration of wetlands and shorelines. Of this, $670 million would be dedicated to new, small-scale projects between $1 million and $20 million in eligible costs.
  • Invest $11.7 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, through Infrastructure Canada to renew the Standards to Support Resilience in Infrastructure Program, so that the Standards Council of Canada can continue updating standards and guidance in priority areas such as flood mapping to help communities plan and build infrastructure that is more durable and resilient to a changing climate.
  • Provide $63.8 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Public Safety Canada to work with provinces and territories to complete flood maps for higher-risk areas.
  • Provide $200 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Infrastructure Canada to establish a Natural Infrastructure Fund to support natural and hybrid infrastructure projects.
  • Provide $17.4 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Environment and Climate Change Canada to support work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, and key stakeholders on the scope of the Canada Water Agency’s mandate, including identifying opportunities to build and support more resilient water infrastructure.
As part of the Government’s plan to strengthen cities and communities, Budget 2021 proposes to provide:
  • $22.6 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to Infrastructure Canada to conduct Canada’s first ever National Infrastructure Assessment to identify needs and priorities for Canada’s built environment.
Budget 2021 also incorporates infrastructure funding announced recently by the Government, including:
  • $14.9 billion over eight years, starting in 2021-22, for public transit projects across Canada, announced on February 10, 2021. This included new permanent funding of $3 billion per year beginning in 2026-27.
  • A one-time investment of $2.2 billion, delivered through the federal Gas Tax Fund (to be renamed the Canada Community-Building Fund), to address infrastructure priorities in municipalities and First Nations. The funding was included in Bill C-25, tabled on March 25, 2021. The bill is still at first reading.
On April 20, CPWA welcomed the Government’s Focus on Resilience in Budget 2021.

Canada-U.S. Border Remains Closed
On April 20, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced on Twitter that the land border between Canada and the United States would remain closed until May 21, 2021. Since March 18, 2020, the Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travelto limit the spread of COVID-19. Restrictions have been extended a month at a time. Requirements in place at the border can be found at https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid.

Legislation


The House of Commons is sitting through Friday, May 14, 2021. The Senate of Canada is adjourned until Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Bill C-14 Referred to Senate Finance Committee
On April 15, Bill C-14, Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020 was passed by the House of Commons at third reading. On April 20, the bill was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, which held its first meeting to study the bill on April 22. The bill, introduced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on December 2, would implement COVID-19 support measures included in Finance Minister Freeland’s Fall Economic Statement.

Committee Activities


House Transport Committee Launches Study on Targeted Infrastructure Investment
On April 15, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities launched a study on targeted infrastructure investment. Witnesses to date have included the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Fédération québécoise des municipalités. Scheduled to appear before the committee at its next meeting on April 27 are the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada.

House Environment Committee Presents Study on Zero Emission Vehicles
On April 13, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development presented to the House of Commons its report The Road Ahead: Encouraging the production and purchase of zero-emission vehicles in Canada. The report includes the following recommendations:
  • Recommendation 8
    The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with provinces and territories to revise building codes, including the forthcoming national model building codes, to encourage the installation of charging infrastructure in newly constructed commercial and multi-unit residential buildings, and encourage the voluntary installation of charging infrastructure in newly-constructed single-family residential dwellings.
     
  • Recommendation 9
    The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada review its charging station incentive programs to encourage the installation of smart charging infrastructure, and to expand access to vehicle chargers in multi-unit residential buildings and remote and rural areas.
     
  • Recommendation 13
    The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada convene a working group bringing together representatives from government, industry and other relevant groups to study how the heavy-duty vehicle sector will transition to a net-zero future.

House Environment Committee Reports Bill C-204 With Amendments
On April 13, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development reported C-204, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (final disposal of plastic waste) to the House with Amendments. The bill would prohibit the export of certain types of plastic waste to foreign countries for final disposal.
 

Departmental Updates


Infrastructure Minister Launches Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Program
On April 14, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announced the launch of a program across Canada to support green and inclusive community buildings through retrofits, repairs, upgrades, and new builds. As part of the Strengthened Climate Plan, the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program will deliver $1.5 billion in funding over the next five years to projects that improve the places where Canadians gather, access services, and connect with others in the community, while saving energy, cutting pollution, and offering thousands of good jobs.

Infrastructure Minister Launches Community Buildings Retrofit Initiative
On April 13, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna launched the Community Buildings Retrofit initiative to help communities of all sizes overcome the barriers of limited budgets and expertise when undertaking greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction projects. Funded by a $167-million federal investment in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipal Fund, the new initiative supports Canadian municipalities, big and small, and not-for-profit organizations in undertaking retrofits and other upgrades to lower emissions by improving energy performance, lowering operating costs and extending the life of community assets. The Community Buildings Retrofit initiative will provide grants and loans to fund a portion of each project and expects to disburse the full funding envelope over the next six years.

On the Horizon


Spring Federal Election Unlikely
Though Budget 2021 is widely seen as the last budget before an election, today’s vote on the general budgetary policy of the government is expected to pass, given NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s oft-stated intention to not trigger an election during a global pandemic.

It is also doubtful that Prime Minister Trudeau will use the budget as the springboard to call an election in spring/early summer. Given the serious impact of the third wave of COVID-19 currently ravaging the country, it is more likely the Prime Minister will want to conduct an election in the fall of 2021, once most Canadians have been vaccinated, assuming the positive polling numbers he currently enjoys still hold firm at that time.