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Brian Porter, who retired from Scotiabank in January after serving as CEO for more than nine years, will guide the selection of the Ontario Infrastructure Bank board and management team and setting its mandate.Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

The Ontario government is moving quickly to get more money into major projects by appointing former Bank of Nova Scotia BNS-T chief executive officer Brian Porter as the inaugural chair of the newly created Ontario Infrastructure Bank.

Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy committed $3-billion in November to creating an arm’s-length, board-run lender that would invest in large infrastructure projects alongside pension plans and other institutional investors.

On Thursday, the provincial government said Mr. Porter, who retired from Scotiabank in January after serving as CEO for more than nine years, will guide the selection of the Ontario Infrastructure Bank board and management team and setting the agency’s mandate.

“I look forward to stepping into this role to ensure the Ontario Infrastructure Bank will get to work quickly and invest in critical infrastructure for the benefit of all Ontarians,” Mr. Porter said in a press release.

The infrastructure bank will focus on investments in long-term care homes, affordable housing, and energy and transportation infrastructure. In a press release, the province said Mr. Porter and the bank’s board will “develop a detailed process to ensure there is appropriate qualification and selection of projects and partners in priority areas based on financial and public interest criteria.”

In recent months, Ontario Premier Doug Ford reversed a controversial decision to develop land in the province’s protected Greenbelt, surrounding Toronto and area, after acknowledging a flawed property selection process.

The Ontario Infrastructure Bank is modelled on the Canada Infrastructure Bank, created by the federal Liberal government in 2017, and programs in Germany, Britain, California and Connecticut.

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Over the past six years, the Canada Infrastructure Bank has committed $10.1-billion to approximately 50 projects, with a total value of $28.9-billion. Last year, the federal agency pledged $970-million, its largest investment, to installing small modular reactors at Ontario’s Darlington power plant, owned by provincial Crown corporation Ontario Power Generation.

Mr. Porter spent 42 years at Scotiabank, a major lender and adviser on infrastructure projects around the world. He is chair of the board of governors at Huron University College at Western University in London, Ont., and recently stepped down after a seven-year stint as chair of the University Health Network, Toronto’s largest collection of hospitals.

“Like other jurisdictions across the country, the need for new sustainable infrastructure in Ontario – from transportation to housing – is substantial, and Brian’s deep experience as one of Canada’s most pre-eminent business and community leaders is exactly what is needed to drive this mandate forward,” Scott Thomson, who succeeded Mr. Porter as CEO of Scotiabank, said in a press release.

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