On October 1, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) $10B plan to invest in major infrastructure initiatives that will create jobs and propel economic growth. The Growth Plan developed by the CIB is expected to create 60,000 jobs across the country.
The plan includes the following detailed investments:
$2.5 Billion for Clean Power
The CIB will invest $2.5B in clean power generation, transmission and storage over the next three years. This investment is a major part of the CIB’s goal of investing $5 billion in clean power over the medium-term.
Clean power investments will result in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and help Canada achieve its 2030 and 2050 emission reduction targets.
OSPE believes that restoring our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic should honour our existing environmental and climate change concerns. The CIB’s investment in clean power represents an ideal opportunity to address the needs of current and future generations, while creating employment opportunities for engineers and energy innovators.
$2 Billion for Broadband
The CIB’s broadband initiative will accelerate connectivity in Canada by developing and delivering large-scale, high-impact projects. The CIB’s investments will connect more than three quarters of a million households and businesses in underserved communities, and create new economic, education and health care service opportunities.
The pandemic has made the need for widely distributed broadband connectivity more important than ever. The CIB’s broadband investments will contribute to the federal government’s commitment to ensure that all Canadians have access to high-speed internet.
COVID-19 has shown us that technology and high capacity infrastructure is no longer a luxury, but an economic necessity for both businesses and consumers. Unfortunately, access to high-speed internet is not consistent across Canada.
As e-commerce and online learning usage increases, we commend the government for prioritizing access to broadband internet to all Canadians, keeping in mind the need to properly connect remote and rural communities. Further, as construction sites continue to open during the pandemic, investment in digital infrastructure will also ensure that simple practices and permit issuing is kept online, in order to help maintain physical distancing protocols.
As digital becomes embedded into business models and operations, it is imperative that all of Canada’s engineering companies have the capacity to operate in this new ecosystem. Increased funding for digitization will enable the government to close some of the gaps that exist between organizations and companies, while keeping businesses operating, and safeguarding engineering jobs in the province.
$1.5 Billion for Zero-Emission Buses
The CIB’s investments in this area will accelerate adoption of modern zero-emission bus fleets and reduce greenhouse gases and operating costs over the long-term.
Financing challenges often limit the development and expansion of clean transit systems. The CIB investment will address the high upfront capital costs of zero-emission buses (ZEBs) and the associated charging infrastructure faced by bus owners and operators.
The CIB’s financing of the high upfront cost of zero-emission buses will create long-term operating savings. These savings are estimated to be substantial, as lifetime operating costs for ZEBs could be as much as 40% lower than diesel buses. The initiative will also help address the transition and procurement barriers by facilitating pan-Canadian participation, knowledge sharing and potentially bulk purchasing.
Investing in public transit is essential to growing local economies and reducing greenhouses gases. These investments contribute to the Government of Canada’s goal of 5,000 zero-emission school and transit buses over the next five years.
Beyond the immediate priorities in the $10B Growth Plan, the CIB will continue to focus on existing and new opportunities for transformational public transit projects across Canada, such as light rail transit, regional rail, subway and bus rapid transit.
OSPE welcomes this very important investment. Canada and Ontario should work towards a safe, green, innovative, and integrated transportation system that is able to support a clean environment, while boosting trade, economic growth, and public safety. Policies should seek to develop and foster a transportation system that works for current and future generations.
Electric motors are about three times more energy efficient than an internal combustion engine under ideal operating conditions. Electric vehicles also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take advantage of the province’s largely low carbon electricity grid. Transit use has declined because of the pandemic, so adoption of EVs may limit the resulting increase in GHG emissions from the transportation sector. Investing in EVs provides the opportunity of achieving short-term results, while allowing clean sectors to grow sustainably over time.
$2 Billion for Energy Efficient Building Retrofits
The CIB will help improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings by working with large private and public sector real estate owners to modernize buildings.
Inefficient energy consumption in commercial buildings is a major source of greenhouse gases. Energy efficient buildings will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to Canada’s transition to a low-carbon future.
The Government of Canada’s climate plan identifies energy efficiency of buildings as a key priority, as energy to heat and cool buildings accounts for about 12 percent of Canada’s.
The CIB initiative will finance the upfront capital costs of energy-efficient building retrofits, thereby creating long-term savings via efficiencies. Investment from the private sector in retrofitting has traditionally been limited due to the uncertain nature of expected cost savings. The CIB can play a significant role in developing this market and providing the economic foundation required to attract private sector capital.
OSPE believes that this is a very positive investment. These measures will help stimulate the COVID-19 economy, as greener buildings have been proven to lead to lower utility bills, and higher property value. This is a unique opportunity to both create jobs and increase consumer spending as well as contribute to Canada’s transition to a low-carbon future.