The Canada Infrastructure Bank will announce a series of projects by Canada Day that will include billions of dollars in commitments from pension funds and private investors, bank CEO Ehren Cory told The Globe and Mail Tuesday.
Mr. Cory said the bank has eight new projects that will soon be announced.
“They’re coming to our board for approval in the coming months,” he said.
Mr. Cory made the comments in an interview as the bank faced heated questions over a report Tuesday from Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux, who found that the bank has failed to date in attracting private capital, which was a core premise of the Liberal government’s rationale for creating the $35-billion Crown corporation four years ago.
In an online post Tuesday, Mr. Giroux provides a summary of the bank’s announcements to date. The PBO said while the bank has announced its participation in 13 projects, only five involve specific funding commitments.
The total cost of the bank’s contribution to the five projects is just more than $4-billion, most of which is dedicated to two specific projects: $2-billion for the GO Expansion Project in Ontario and $1.28-billion for the REM light-rail project in Montreal.
The PBO report also provides insight into the review process that has been under way at the bank as the institution decides which projects require further study and which should be rejected.
The CIB has received 420 project proposals to date, including the 13 that the bank is now involved with to varying degrees.
The PBO found 81 per cent of submitted projects have been rejected or are no longer under active consideration.
“Of the projects for which contracts have been signed, there is no evidence that any private investment has been leveraged. The CIB’s two current projects are exclusively funded by federal, provincial and municipal levels of government,” the PBO said.
Mr. Cory and Mr. Giroux both appeared as witnesses Tuesday afternoon before the House of Commons Transport committee.
Conservative and NDP MPs told Mr. Cory that the PBO’s findings support their long-standing concerns with the bank.
Conservative MP Andrew Scheer said Mr. Cory’s promises of announcements to come lack credibility given that the bank has made similar pledges in the past.
“When the Prime Minister came back from the fanciest cocktail circuit you could ever imagine – you know, the uber-rich, the one per cent of the one per cent – [they] convinced him that if he were to create this infrastructure bank, these private-sector entities from all over the world would just trip over themselves to put their cash, their investors’ cash, into these projects,” Mr. Scheer said.
“Where are the independent private-sector hedge funds, the private-sector mutual funds, the private-sector banks, the private-sector capital that you promised, that this government promised?”
NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said the PBO’s findings show the bank has not lived up to what the Liberal government promised.
“This is an utter failure by the very terms of success set by the bank itself,” he said, adding that the focus on attracting private investors who are seeking returns is deeply problematic.
“The question is, where does that return come from? Well, it comes from communities, it comes from citizens, and the cost for those projects are higher because of the profits that have to go to the private investors. And that’s something that is simply not in the public interest,” Mr. Bachrach said.
In the interview and in his committee appearance, Mr. Cory said the large projects that attract institutional investors can take years to negotiate. He said that in the interim, the bank now has a mandate to also support smaller projects with other levels of government, such as bus electrification and housing projects.
“I feel like we are on the right track and I feel like the Canada Infrastructure Bank remains incredibly important,” Mr. Cory told MPs.
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