Infrastructure Investments Nationally and within the National Capital Region

Speaking Notes for The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Status of Women

Ottawa, Ontario
January 17, 2012

Check against delivery

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Pierre, for that introduction.

Our Government's top priority remains completing the economic recovery. We are staying focused on what matters to Canadians—jobs and economic growth.

That is why I am pleased to be here today to announce an important investment that will stimulate our economy and strengthen our national infrastructure.

It is my pleasure to announce today that our Government will invest close to $250 million in bridges, dams and highways across Canada owned by my Department. Coupled with existing funds, this will bring our total capital investment to $320 million for a national program of works over five years ending in 2016.

At a time when our economic recovery remains fragile, these investments will create jobs and boost the local economy in many communities.

A program of work of this magnitude and the associated maintenance activities have the capacity, according to Statistics Canada, to create or maintain, on average, about 1,400 jobs per year across Canada, or some 7,000 jobs by the end of the five years.

These investments follow closely on my Department's success in delivering $938 million or 97 per cent of the funds put in our hands for Canada's Economic Action Plan.

As part of the Plan we invested $421 million over two years in our own portfolio, repairing buildings and roads, investing in bridges and accessibility upgrades to benefit all Canadians.

Today's announcements reflect our Government's commitment to ensuring the highest standards of safety for our public infrastructure and the people who depend on it.

For example, we will maintain jobs and stimulate the economy of northern British Columbia by carrying out essential repairs and upgrades to the Alaska Highway, the main route for those living in communities between Dawson Creek and the Yukon border.

We will be investing in the Latchford Dam and the Des Allumettes Bridge in Ontario's Near North.

And in our industrial heartland we will be modernizing the Burlington Lift Bridge.

Right here in the National Capital Region, we are investing in the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, the Chaudière Crossing, and the Alexandra Bridge.

These bridges are vital elements of this region's infrastructure.

Over 100,000 vehicles use these bridges every day, carrying the hard-working residents of the National Capital Region to their jobs, homes and schools.

Moreover, the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge and Chaudière Crossing are the only local bridges authorized for truck traffic; without them, goods cannot get to market.

It's clear that these bridges are a crucial part of the local economy.

Although all three crossings are safe, they need repairs to keep them that way and safeguard taxpayer investments.

As you can tell from my descriptions, the Department is custodian of major pieces of the nation's infrastructure; these are assets Canadians rely upon on a daily basis. I assure you, their significance and the public trust we hold is not lost on us. These investments are a continuation of the due diligence we have pursued through more than 200 inspections, engineering studies and feasibility reports.

At the same time, the Department understands its accountability to taxpayers; we once held many more assets and marine structures in our inventory. Since 1990 we have divested ourselves of 15 major assets and 347 wharves and docks, transferring them to more appropriate levels of government at the provincial and municipal levels.

Most recently the Government of Canada rebuilt the Laniel Dam near Laniel, Quebec, to complete the transfer of that dam plus two others to the Province of Quebec in 2010.

These investments not only demonstrate our Government's commitment to completing Canada's economic recovery and to creating jobs across the country, but also to ensuring our national infrastructure continues to provide valuable and reliable services to Canadian communities.

My announcement of this new funding, as well as the projects being announced today in communities across the country, also reflect my Department's continuing commitment to stewardship of these assets as the custodian on behalf of the taxpayers of Canada.

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to share this news with you today.

Thank you.