Infrastructure: Municipal leaders meet with Finance Minister (22/11/2016)
FCM President Clark Somerville issued this statement following meetings and remarks by the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, at FCM's Board of Directors meeting in Ottawa.
Today's meetings with Minister Morneau continued the intensive dialogue that his government has sustained all year with FCM. We share the aspiration he voiced today to see Phase 2 of his government's infrastructure plan become a catalyst for growth and innovation across Canada.
Community-building is nation-building: supporting local solutions to local needs is often the best way to tackle national challenges. We reiterated for Minster Morneau today that municipalities are ready to work with this government to ensure outstanding returns on its infrastructure investments. Those returns include core public value like growth, jobs, productivity, GHG reductions and a higher quality of life for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Our meetings today focussed on outstanding issues for the design of Phase 2. We stressed that predictable funding allocations empower municipalities to plan ahead, tap local expertise, and move projects forward. We emphasized that cost-sharing arrangements should ensure local fiscal limitations don't limit outcomes for Canadians. We stressed the urgent need for federal investment to tackle the housing crisis that's playing out in our cities and communities - and noted Minister Morneau's emphasis today on housing as a Phase 2 social infrastructure priority.
We commend Minister Morneau today for his recent commitment to dedicate significant funding to rural, northern and remote infrastructure needs that might otherwise not be met in Phase 2. We also welcomed his resolve to work with FCM in designing the Canada Infrastructure Bank. As an optional complement to public funding, lower-cost financing may help some municipalities move certain strategic projects forward, further and faster.
With Phase 2 program details expected to be announced in Budget 2017, we look forward to continuing our conversation with Minister Morneau in the coming weeks and months.
Clark Somerville is President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and a local/regional councillor for the Town of Halton Hills and Halton Region. FCM is the national voice of local government, with nearly 2,000 members representing 90 per cent of Canada's population.