Bob Nault – Infrastructure a Hot Topic in Northern Ontario

Kenora continues downtown revitalization.
Kenora

KENORA – We all know that infrastructure is a hot-button topic in northern Ontario. But besides bridges and roads there are other necessary infrastructure pieces missing, such as housing on First Nations communities and homes for seniors across the region. Fortunately, Budget 2016 offers a tremendous opportunity to begin to address these long-standing issues.

The Government will begin to implement its plan to invest more than $120 billion in infrastructure over 10 years, to better meet the needs of Canadians and enhance Canada’s economy for the future.

The Government’s plan will be implemented in two phases. In addition to funding flowing through the existing programs that support infrastructure, the government will invest $3.4 billion over three years to upgrade and improve public transit systems across Canada; $5.0 billion over five years for investments in water, wastewater and green infrastructure projects across Canada; and $3.4 billion over five years for social infrastructure, including affordable housing, early learning and child care, cultural and recreational infrastructure, as well as investments in community health care facilities on-reserve.

Budget 2016 also proposes to make historic infrastructure investments of $3.5 billion over five years to support infrastructure in Indigenous communities. This includes $1.8 billion to address health and safety needs, to ensure proper facility operation and maintenance, and to end long-term boil water advisories on First Nations reserves within five years. While ambitious, clean drinking water must be a basic human right in Canada and it’s time we get it done. The plan also calls for $732.0 million over two years to address housing needs and $76.9 million over two years to support the construction of cultural and recreational communities, on-reserve.

Many Canadians told us that affordable housing is a priority. Budget 2016 proposes to invest $2.3 billion over two years, starting in 2016–17. Seniors will get investments in housing with $200.7 million committed over two years, to support the construction, repair, and adaption of affordable housing for seniors.

Phase two will deliver on the remaining eight years of our long-term infrastructure plan. In this phase, the goals will be broader and more ambitious: a more modern, cleaner economy; a more inclusive society; and an economy better positioned to capitalize on the potential of global trade.

Overall it’s a big investment in an area where the federal government hasn’t been involved in for a long time. However, the economy and the state of some of the communities and First Nations means it’s time we get back into the business. This provides a huge opportunity for northern Ontario to finally address some of its critical infrastructure needs.

You can read more about Budget 2016 at budget.gc.ca

Robert Nault MP
Kenora