Skip to main content

The federal government's recently unveiled infrastructure spending commitment will provide an economic stimulus, help tackle our mounting deferred maintenance challenge and drive investment in transportation, climate-change mitigation and connective infrastructure.

According to this quarter's C-Suite survey, 56 per cent of business leaders support the government's intention to run deficits to fund stimulative and productivity-enhancing infrastructure projects. The effectiveness rests not with the simple distribution of funds, but in project selection and delivery to maximize the benefits of each dollar.

This requires robust planning and best-in-class project execution, which federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi has indicated is in line with his approach: "It's not enough for a project to be shovel-ready; a project needs to be shovel-worthy as well," Mr. Sohi said.

Story continues below advertisement

To assess project priority, Ottawa should develop a long-term national infrastructure plan. Canada can learn a great deal from Britain and Australia, both of which have implemented long-term national plans and are broadly considered to be leaders in infrastructure investing.

Both countries' plans are anchored by fundamental principles that also apply to Canada. They are based on strategic objectives and priorities over the long-term (25 to 50 years), which align with the longer life cycles of infrastructure assets, and help decouple decision-making from the political cycle. The plans provide a priority list of nationally significant projects based on an assessment of direct economic contributions.

These plans recognize that the historical approach of primarily funding infrastructure through the tax base is insufficient to meet the challenges ahead, and that more creative solutions are required. Both plans encourage the use of user-pay models and asset recycling. They also encourage innovative approaches to attracting more private institutional financing.

Effective project delivery is also a key part of the equation. Taxpayers and investors need to have confidence that projects can be delivered on time, on budget and at high quality.

Canada needs to optimize its existing infrastructure, using data and smart technologies to innovate and improve efficiency – in the monitoring of water and electricity networks, for example. Innovation here will create multiplier effects in our economy, spurring new competitive industries and mitigating climate, social and health risks.

Doing nothing is not an option. While the provinces and municipalities play significant roles, the federal government has the power to convene these parties along with the private sector, and lead the development of long-term planning and effective project execution.

There is unprecedented agreement among all levels of government, the private sector and institutional investors on the value of infrastructure investments. We also have historically low interest rates and favourable project financing terms. If we get this right, we set the stage for our competitive future.

Story continues below advertisement

Craig Walter is global head of infrastructure investment advisory at KPMG.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter