The problem with infrastructure, Prime Minister, is that it's too much like
housecleaning: once you get one part just the way you like it, you turn
around and find the rest of it in a mess. And nothing stays fixed forever.
Infrastructure can mean different things to different people, but for
the most part, it describes the basic structures that exist for the use
of the public. In Canada, that means roads, sewers, transit systems, airports,
docks, communication towers and outdoor recreational facilities. Your
federal government also counts some tourism projects as infrastructure.
It can be difficult to put a finger on what might qualify, let alone who
And there is often the rub. When something needs to be done, Ottawa wants
the provinces to pay, the provinces want the municipalities to pay, and
the municipalities want someone else to pay.
But most levels of government agree on one thing: Canada's infrastructure
is starting to deteriorate. And they're not the only ones who think
so. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives charges that Canada's
infrastructure is crumbling. Industry representatives for transport and
civil engineering agree. The Canadian Automobile Association says the country's
highways are in poor shape. They've been calling for a share of the
gas tax to put toward the country's highways.
According to Statistics Canada, the federal share of
public infrastructure has shrunk considerably in the last 40 years, while
the provincial and municipal shares have increased. The agency also says
that growth in public infrastructure has not kept pace with population
growth or the growth of the economy. One Statistics Canada report says
there is reason to be concerned about an "infrastructure crisis" due
to that lack of investment.
Statistics Canada report
Right now, you have a few programs to choose from to
hand out money, including the Infrastructure Canada Program, the Strategic
Highways Infrastructure Program, and the Canada Strategic Infrastructure
But Transport Canada reports that while provincial governments spend more
than they collect from road users on road maintenance, the federal government
spends far less than they collect in fuel tax on roads. And how fair is
Cities have already received a GST rebate. It is supposed to provide them
with an extra $7 billion over the next 10 years. Some of that will undoubtedly
be spent on infrastructure. But the hands are still outstretched for more.