Federal minister on infrastructure and communities the Hon. Amarjeet Sohi spoke on November 15 at the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships conference held in downtown Toronto.
Sohi began by saying both as an Edmonton bus driver and city councilor he has seen firsthand how infrastructure can positively affect people and communities. But he added that Canada's infrastructure needs to be improved and to not do so has a cost.
Underfunding infrastructure means a lack of childcare or affordable places to live and that it means Canadian cities are already at a disadvantage when completing for top talent.
In 2016, Sohi said, the Canadian government launched its first phase of its infrastructure plan, intended to tackle Canada's biggest infrastructures concerns.
"we have approved more infrastructure projects in the last five months than we have been able to do previously in the last five years," he said.
The federal plan is focused on northern communities, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, and public transport, Sohi said.
Investments in these areas "build the foundations where people want to live and work, and help cities retain top talent," he said.
To compete with cities across the world, our cities must be at their absolute best, but we must find new ways to foster innovation, Sohi added.
Many infrastructure projects will have no need for the newly announced infrastructure bank, but for those that do, the government will be there for them, Sohi said.
"P3s will continue to play a critical role in projects across the country," Sohi assured the conference audience. He highlighted the Gordie Howe Bridge as an example of a project well suited to the P3 model.
The importance to the Canadian economy of the corridor linked by the Gordie Howe Bridge can't be understated, he added, with one quarter of all Canada-U.S. trade travelling this route.
Sohi also highlighted the Champlain Bridge as critical "not only to the region, but to the entire country."
"We will continue to support the use of P3s as an critical tool in delivering infrastructure projects across Canada," Sohi said.