We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build the Canada that we want as we invest in our recovery. But to achieve our ambition, we have to work with Canadians, use the best available data and guide by global best practices. By doing this, we can guide our infrastructure spending to chart a strong path to 2050, create good jobs, tackle climate change, and build cleaner, more inclusive communities.
A National Infrastructure Assessment is an important nation-building exercise to achieve that. Watch Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Catherine McKenna in conversation with Tamara Vrooman, Chairperson of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Jan De Silva: [00:01:00] Hello everyone. I'm Jan De Silva, [00:01:30] President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade. We're broadcasting to you live from the Arcadian Court, a beautiful event space here in downtown Toronto. Woo-hoo! It's been such a long time since we've been together in person. Toronto's been hit harder than other parts of Canada and the world. CNN recently reported on Toronto as the largest urban center globally that has faced the longest lockdown, more than 360 days. So it is great to be hosting this event with our speakers in [00:02:00] person as we discuss the world post-COVID, building the Toronto and Canada we want in 2050.
Before we begin, I'd like to acknowledge that Toronto is home to diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. This event is being held on traditional territory of many indigenous nations, and reconciliation will be a key part of today's discussion.
A few other opening notes. Today's event is presented with support from our principal sponsors, [00:02:30] The Globe and Mail and Scotiabank. A recording will be available at supportbusiness.bot.com under Webinars and Videos. If your video is lagging, select Click Here to Switch Stream. You can also select Request Help for any other technical issues. And with that, I'll officially kick off this event. A conversation with Canada's Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honorable Catherine McKenna.
This isn't the focus [00:03:00] of today's event, but I want to add my voice to the chorus of people thanking you minister for years of service to our country as an MP and cabinet minister. I've had the pleasure of working closely with the minister and not debating but to recognize urgency of timelines for infrastructure and climate because both are sides of the same coin in many respects of driving our economy.
And let me share my impressions of minister McKenna. She's informed. She [00:03:30] has a vision. She is inspiring. She listens and she acts. And she proved that we could fill convention space in Toronto with business leaders on a Friday in July, when on July 15th, 2016 we hosted an event with the minister as then minister of Environment and Climate Change and then Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that attracted 600 business leaders. Did I mention this was a Friday in July?
A central theme each time [00:04:00] you minister speak to our business community is striving for long-term vision. Whether it's about environmental conservation or building up our communities, we need to think about the impact our decisions will have 30 or 60 years from now. And that brings us to the focus of today's event, the National Infrastructure Assessment. It's a first of its kind endeavor from the federal government to plan for long-term economic competitiveness, community resiliency, [00:04:30] net zero emissions, and more. In other words, what infrastructure do we currently have? What state is it in? And what else do we need to build?
We're incredibly supportive of this initiative. In fact, our board members made a submission to the assessment around the move no goods in the Greater Toronto Area and how as the fastest growing region in North America, expanding and upgrading our transportation infrastructure is a major priority.
But there are so many other priorities [00:05:00] to consider especially in our 21st century economy, high speed broadband, electrical vehicle charging stations, smart housing, wastewater management. All of this adds new projects to the queue. We need a way to plan for, track, and fund these priorities. Investing in one-off projects can't achieve enough of these simultaneous goals. Minister McKenna is helping to build that plan, along with her colleagues across cabinet and the public service. It's my [00:05:30] pleasure to welcome her to share more about the assessment and the government's forward-looking vision.
Following the minister's remarks, we'll be joined by Tamara Vrooman, Chairperson of the Canada Infrastructure Bank for a conversation. Minister, the podium is yours.
Catherine McKen...: Well, thanks very much, Jen. It's great to be here. As you said, great to be here in person and a huge shout-out to you and the Board of Trade. I've done many [00:06:00] events with you, also had many consultations that you were involved in. And you play a really important role for the Greater Toronto Area, but I would say beyond. So thank you very much for that.
I also want to start by acknowledging that we're on the traditional territory of many indigenous peoples, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. At this time, I think Canadians really are recognizing the need to move forward in reconciliation. [00:06:30] And that requires a lot of hard work. Certainly, as you've said, Jan, the National Infrastructure Assessment will play a key role in that because we have a major infrastructure deficit in indigenous communities that we need to work on.
Well, it's been quite a year and a half. I hope we're getting out of the pandemic. It's great to see where we're at in terms of the vaccine rollout. So hopefully we will get out of this. Now we need [00:07:00] to turn to the big economic challenge we have. It's been the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. And we also have the climate crisis.
But the good news is we have a once in a generation opportunity to build nation building infrastructure, really about building the Canada we want as we invest in our recovery. Well, today I'm here to talk to you about that, and in particular, the recommendations that we have received [00:07:30] following an extensive engagement on Canada's first National Infrastructure Assessment.
You might say, "Why are we doing a National Infrastructure Assessment?" And I should be clear. It's a National Infrastructure Assessment for Canada. That's not a National Infrastructure Assessment for the federal government. It's for all of Canada's major infrastructure.
When we launched the engagement on the National Infrastructure Assessment, Canada's first ever, following in the footsteps of other countries, like the UK, Australia and New Zealand, [00:08:00] we set out to develop three priorities: to assess Canada's infrastructure needs and establish a long-term vision for infrastructure; to improve coordination between infrastructure owners and funders of infrastructure; and to determine the best way to fund and finance infrastructure.
For folks who know me, I'm obsessed with making sure that we maximize every dollar, every taxpayer dollar that's invested so we get outcomes. [00:08:30] And that's what this is about as well. Maximizing every taxpayer dollar so we increase economic growth and Canada's competitiveness so that we reach net zero emissions by 2050, because we have no choice, and also build resilience in the face of the impacts of climate change that we are seeing right now. And also, so we improve the quality of life for all Canadians.
Well, the good news is lots of folks weighed in. We had 12 round tables with [00:09:00] 162 organizations, countless discussions, and written submissions from over 300 groups. That includes provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous groups, experts, non-profit organizations, industry, and many more. And we now have a clearer picture on how the National Infrastructure Assessment might take on the three priorities I mentioned.
I'm very pleased with a strong response, and at this point I want to thank everyone who took the time to weigh in [00:09:30] because it is incredibly important that we think about the Canada we want, not just now, not just in the next few years, but out to 2050.
Well, I think one of the things we know seeing recent events, wildfires in the west, extreme heat that has killed over 600 people in British Columbia, flooding across Europe where you're seeing more rain in a day than you would see in months, that climate change [00:10:00] is here and it's having an impact. We need to tackle the climate crisis and we have a huge opportunity to do so. And I would say we should take some lessons from the pandemic, where we had a clear goal, where we invested in that goal. We brought together the private sector with the public sector, with all Canadians to achieve it. And we will get out of the pandemic.
I will say though, the pandemic has exposed existing social [00:10:30] inequalities and investment gaps. It's also exacerbated challenges in particular for indigenous peoples, black and racialized communities, youth, certainly women, we know that it's been a massive challenge when it comes to childcare, seniors, recent immigrants and people with disabilities.
But beyond that, we have to look at the international context. There are huge pressures that we are under. Canada as a country to adapt and remain competitive, yes, amongst [00:11:00] a changing, rapidly changing climate, but also where we have huge digital transformation, changing demographics, and shifting geopolitics.
The good news is the full report is available online and it highlights some key recommendations that will help guide the design of the assessment. And I will say that there is an overwhelming view of the submissions, that they welcome the assessment as having tremendous potential to improve infrastructure decisions [00:11:30] in Canada. So let's talk about some of the recommendations.
One of the key, and I believe the most critical recommendation is a call for an independent advisory body, like a commission in the UK with a clear mandate to carry out the assessment and provide the government and Canadians with impartial expert and evidence-based advice on Canada's infrastructure priorities. That's challenges and opportunities for major [00:12:00] infrastructure in Canada covering all sectors of infrastructure, from economic infrastructure to social infrastructure to sustainable infrastructure to natural infrastructure.
And this assessment should offer a strategic approach to near, medium, and long-term investment decisions over the next 30 years, to help us achieve a net zero economy, economic growth and competitiveness, and a better quality of life for all Canadians through coordination at all levels of government [00:12:30] and continued collaboration with indigenous communities, experts, stakeholders, industry, and Canadians more broadly.
As a key component of Canada strengthened climate plan, we heard that the assessment must work to ensure that infrastructure investments drive us to net zero emissions by 2050 and build resilience to climate change. There was also an identified need to engage directly with indigenous communities to identify infrastructure needs, [00:13:00] consider the infrastructure deficit, and move forward in a manner that is consistent with reconciliation and self-determination.
We also heard loud and clear the need for improving coordination and collaboration between infrastructure owners and funders to support strategic infrastructure investments. And that includes an analysis of alternative funding and financing mechanisms for consistent ... It includes also consistent public infrastructure funding and to expend [00:13:30] funding sources beyond the tax base. And I know Tamara Vrooman will be very happy to talk about the Canada Infrastructure Bank's key role in doing [00:14:30] that.
So what's the result we're looking for? It would be a forward looking and evolving roadmap to 2050 to guide public infrastructure spending by all orders of government in the achievement of economic growth and enhance competitiveness, [00:15:00] net zero emissions by 2050, and improved quality of life for all Canadians. The complex and evolving picture of infrastructure in the 21st century, which now includes everything from yes, major economic infrastructure, roads, ports, airports, bridges, but also childcare, affordable housing, public transit, high speed broadband underscore the importance of developing the tools we need to build the Canada we want.
We aim to get there [00:15:30] by working together, by having discipline, by using the best available data guided by global best practices and infrastructure planning, investment, design, management, and leveraging the private sector investment so that we do things faster, we can go further, we can build more and better infrastructure, and certainly build back better than we ever imagined.
By working together this project will be nation building. And on this note, I want to take a moment to recognize [00:16:00] a good friend and colleague, Tamara Vrooman, Chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Thank you very much for your leadership, Tamara. It's been extraordinary to see how the Canada Infrastructure Bank is moving forward and getting projects done. I set that as a goal. We needed to see progress, and it's been really great.
Also huge, thanks to the board. I know the board, many of the members have been there from the start, and I think have played an extremely important role to getting us to where we are. And of course, Ehren [00:16:30] Cory, the CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Well, we have a lot more to talk about when it comes to the assessment, and I'm very pleased to have Tamara join me and Jan in conversation as we discuss even further the recommendations for moving forward on Canada's first ever National Infrastructure Assessment. Thank you. Merci.
Jan De Silva: Thank you Minister for those remarks and for joining us at today's event. We want to build on your comments. Let's dive straight into the conversation [00:17:00] with Tamara. Also part of our discussion, I'll include some questions we received ahead of today's event from our members.
The first question we've got. What we're talking about represents a culture shift from funding the project to funding the plan. For instance, local agencies and organizations are used to receiving one-off grants rather than be part of an interconnected proposal within a larger vision. So how are you making that cultural shift and communicating the benefits [00:17:30] of this new model?
Catherine McKen...: So maybe I'll start and then we can hand it over to Tamara. Look, I mean, I think I realized very quickly when I came into the role as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities that when you talk to provinces or you talk to municipalities or you talk to folks, it could be the private sector or the public, not-for-profits, they need more certainty about what we're doing. And while it's great we're making large investments in infrastructure, you need to have long- [00:18:00] term certainty.
And let's take just public transit for a moment. The investments you're making are decades in the future. Often, you've seen previous governments lurching. There's money there, then there's no money. It's very difficult to actually plan a proper public transit system that's going to meet the needs of an evolving population. It's harder to get value for money and it takes way more time.
So one of the things that we did was announced that we were committing $ [00:18:30] 3 billion every year to permanent public transit funding, which makes a huge difference. I hear this from provinces. I hear this from municipalities. But I hear this from people because it means that you can actually say, "Okay, we're doing this one project now, but our vision is that we're going to expand this project. We know that we have the funding there." Of course, we need to leverage other levels of government, and the private sector through the CIB is important part of that.
So I think that we have to move beyond project-based [00:19:00] funding. We are never, ever going to hit net zero emissions by 2050, if we don't. We won't achieve our potential when it comes to competitiveness, when it comes to economic growth, or just actually making smart infrastructure decisions.
Jan De Silva: Tamara.
Tamara Vrooman: Thanks very much, Jen, and thanks very much minister, and bonjour, and thanks to the Board of Trade for sponsoring this very important conversation at a very critical time.
At the Canada Infrastructure Bank, we have been quite privileged over [00:19:30] the past several months in particular under new leadership to have no shortage of projects and plans and proposals that are coming through our front door. In fact, it's been quite extraordinary. But one of the reasons why we really support the idea of a National Infrastructure Assessment is that a plan equals certainty and certainty in banking and finance and business equals speed. So if we're going to be able to understand which should come first to be able to mobilize private [00:20:00] capital, to be able to organize resources, to efficiently deploy infrastructure projects, having a plan and a roadmap is very, very helpful.
We think that we have a real and very unique opportunity. The pandemic has meant that virtually every country in the world has gone through a similar experience. That's very unique in our history. But it also sets us up to have to be quite disciplined when we think about the competitive pressures that are facing the [00:20:30] Canadian economy. And every jurisdiction we've seen south of the border, the Biden Administration focusing heavily on infrastructure. We need to make sure that we can act quickly, efficiently, and decisively to mobilize all the resources that we need to set our country up for future success.
Jan De Silva: And as I said, we're a big, big fan of funding a plan. I mean, in the context where our members are situated, the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, which we refer to as probably our largest economic zone in the country, it's 34 municipalities. And our ability [00:21:00] to plan across the whole because you'll live in a city but you do business across the whole. So a plan is very necessary and will be a huge lift for our economic development and our competitiveness as the minister has indicated. So thanks for that.
At the board, we're a strong fan of public-private partnerships and CIB's working to make new models possible. What types of these partnerships are most exciting to you and are there innovations you're seeing that our business members can look to as [00:21:30] good case studies for getting involved in government-backed infrastructure projects?
Tamara Vrooman: So at the moment the Canada Infrastructure Bank as of last week has funded and financed about $13.9 billion in projects, over 70% of those in the last six months alone with almost 70% of that financing coming from the private sector.
We also are very big fans of public-private partnerships. [00:22:00] And some of the things that we're really seeing that are unique and innovative are bringing together not only the financial tools, but financial tools as a minister said that achieve the kind of economic, social, and climate outcomes that we need. A really great example of that is one that's pretty close to this region, the Oneida Battery Power Storage project. That's a partnership between ... It's a real Canadian success story actually, a partnership between NRStor, a Canadian-owned company founded [00:22:30] and led by Annette Verschuren, the former President and CEO of Home Depot, and Six Nations of Grand River indigenous community to bring the first battery and largest battery storage energy facility on the continent.
And what we see in that is really the ability to bring private capital, local governance, to your point about communities and how to involve, not to diminish local authority and local needs in a national [00:23:00] plan, but to include them, and bring the tools of innovation and finance. So we're quite excited about the kinds of opportunities we have.
The other one I would say for the banking and finance community that might be listening is around things like retrofits. Retrofits aren't new. We've been talking about energy and green building retrofits for many, many years, but they've always struggled with lack of data and lack of certainty on the upfront costs and would they be paid [00:23:30] back. So we've been taking an approach from conventional financing and actually applying it to green building retrofits and funding ... The financing is provided through the savings that you get from operating the building versus financing the asset.
So I think the more we start to see infrastructure as part of society, part of business, part of an economy, we can start also to focus on cash flows and revenue as a financing source.
Catherine McKen...: I might just add to this, because I think this is a really important conversation. Maybe this [00:24:00] will be hardening to some folks who are listening. Like there's not infinite taxpayer dollars. I think that that is just a reality. Obviously, Canada and countries around the world are making very significant investments because we're in the greatest recession since the Great Depression. So that's a huge opportunity. But there's a lot of opportunities. There's a lot of money out there. And we need to figure out better ways to leverage the private sector. And I often hear [00:24:30] like, "Where's your pipeline of projects? Where's your roadmap?" Like, "What are you trying to achieve?"
I think that providing that certainty is really important. I think also people need to understand how does the bank work? What does it mean to have revenue generating projects? As I say, I mean, you're paying one way or another. We pay through our taxes, which maybe we don't see it as directly or think about it as directly, or you pay in other ways.
And I think the bank has been great in providing just innovative models. So even look at what [00:25:00] we're able to do on electric buses. We have a mandate of 5,000 electric buses. Well, I've learned pretty quickly. It's not the buses that are expensive. It's the charging infrastructure. So you need more investment. And the bank [inaudible 00:25:12] their savings when you invest in technology, the good news is about a lot of the things that are good. There's actually a business case. So electric buses, there's huge savings, although over a long term.
So the bank looked at that, and same with retrofits. How do we figure out to make this model work [00:25:30] so we can get more and better infrastructure built by being smarter? And it's actually great to see the UK is taking up the model. They've said that the UK now wants to have an infrastructure bank. But I think we really need to think hard about this.
I was talking with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, but I've done a lot of work internationally with the insurance industry on adaptation. There are new models of looking at what are going to be the long-term impacts and risk and really figuring that in. [00:26:00] And then of course, I mean, Mark Carney has been working on climate disclosure.
I think that there's a huge movement to change how we think about things, how we think about what we're investing, how we invest, what are creative ways to get, as I said, outcomes. I'm extremely obsessed with outcomes. And of course, making sure that we're getting value for taxpayer dollars and leveraging the private sector.
So it's a huge kudos to the bank. Michael Sabia was right at the beginning when he came in as well. Just reimagining [00:26:30] what is the role of the bank, having a growth plan that was consistent, both with where we're at in terms of the pandemic and the need to invest quickly to create jobs and growth, but also, just looking at where we're at as a world.
And I can't emphasize this enough. Climate change is real, and the costs are enormous right now that we're seeing. When a community literally is incinerated with all of its infrastructure, literally incinerated in a matter of hours. We've got a huge challenge. [00:27:00] And the cost of investing in the future we want, which I believe everyone would agree is certainly making sure that we have a sustainable future for our kids, but taking advantage of the huge economic opportunity is going to require us all to work really hard.
But luckily as a country of very smart people, we have institutions that get it, we have orders of government that get it. We have a climate plan. And we have a bank that's willing to take some risks and really think hard about how do we leverage the private sector? How [00:27:30] do we get outcomes? And how can we think differently without such a short-term view of things? Because the reality is if you're investing money, you want the longer-term perspective and you want some certainty about where the country is going in terms of infrastructure.
Jan De Silva: And I would just echo that. I mean, climate change, yes, is real. The climate economy is just a good thing to pursue, but a tremendous opportunity for Canada as well. And we've got Yung Wu, the CEO of MaRS as Vice [00:28:00] Chair on my board, and we're putting our heads together on some interesting work related to how do we position ourselves not only to solve our climate goals or solve for our climate goals, but also really tap into becoming a leading player in this space from the perspective of the climate economy.
A question now from the audience. Any advice for bankers, financial institutions to engage with local communities to provide sustainable infrastructure financing and have a more inclusive approach towards building back better?
Catherine McKen...: [00:28:30] I have lots to say on this too, but go ahead. Yeah.
Tamara Vrooman: So certainly, as a banker for most of my career, my short answer to it is just do it. There's a huge role that finance plays in sustainability and climate adaptation. When you think about it, the allocation of capital is one of the most powerful tools that we have to dictate the future that we want to create. Who gets a loan, who doesn't, [00:29:00] for what, under what conditions, with what benefits is one of the single most powerful determinants. So finance has rightly been focused on when it comes to sustainability and climate change.
So involving communities, understanding what communities need, not only from a climate, but also from a social and an inclusivity and an inequality point of view is key. So it's really, it's old fashioned banking. It's understanding what your customers and clients need [00:29:30] and set them up for future success by de-risking their businesses, de-risking their communities, and certainly climate adaptation, social infrastructure that's more inclusive and welcoming to newcomers. We can have a more productive economy all the way through sets us up for competition and for innovation, as you said, through the impressive work that the MaRS center does here in Toronto. All of that needs to be financed.
And so the more connected that our banks and finance community, which is world renowned. We're [00:30:00] very well positioned there as well. Put those two things together and we get a double word score.
Catherine McKen...: Yeah. I mean, I think that this actually requires some work because I hear like there's we need the pipeline of projects. Well, I talk to communities. I talk to provinces, obviously, federal government. We want to get things done. But there sometimes is a lack of understanding of the opportunity and how it works with, like how does the financial sector, how does it work? What does it mean to have revenue generating? And that isn't necessarily a bad word that you can get more [00:30:30] done.
And I think that it's by working together and really having those conversations, but it requires some work. You can't just expect community X is going to know. They know what they want as a community, but they don't necessarily know how to fund or finance it.
And I'll take like a small place, but it's great. Everyone should go there. I mean, I'm always hoping we can do more travel, but Summerside PEI. They were actually, I mean, it's an interesting story. They were a military town, military-based moves. They had to reinvent themselves and they decided that [00:31:00] they were going to really focus on how could they be a huge innovator in the clean economy of the future.
So they worked with Samsung, they worked with the private ... different private sector players. Of course, they brought in different levels of government. They created their own micro grid. Like they have, they're producing their own wind. The pool is helping, or the rain is helping to cool the pool, the rain ... It's just amazing to see. And that's a small community that maybe didn't have a lot of capacity initially, but they had [00:31:30] those conversations and people were willing to do the work.
And guess what? People make money. At the end of the day, if you're private sector, you want to make money. That's fine. You can make money while doing good things, but there has to be more conversations. It's not good enough to just sort to stay here. And I've said this to the bank as well. You've got to go out and have real conversations with folks and explain, listen to what they want and say, "Here's a different model."
I think Oneida Battery Storage is great, the project is a great example, but also the first project, major project that the bank did under the new [00:32:00] growth plan was with Alberta, which I thought was also a good sign, but it was with the Alberta government, but with also farmers and landowners to do a massive irrigation project. You're getting good at things and you're actually understanding what are the needs of the community, and you're figuring out innovative ways to get something done that wouldn't have happened otherwise.
And I think that's the point, how do we get more and better infrastructure done. Because then the public will understand this. Because I'll tell you, there's a voracious appetite for more and better [00:32:30] infrastructure. And now we have to figure out, okay, how do we actually get the coordination to do it? How do we get the discipline to figure out the longer-term vision? And how do we fund and finance it?
Jan De Silva: Yeah. No. And I think you're absolutely right. That conversation's critical and you were touching on it towards the end, because I think one of the other problems right now is the coordination, the approvals and other types of preconditions that need to be met to fulfill projects in a timely basis. So this is all music to our ears and terrific.
Final question. I can't believe we're running [00:33:00] out of time. As the minister said, to reach net zero, every infrastructure project has to factor in emission reduction targets. How do we hold that truth against other needs, including for projects to be cost-effective, built quickly, community engaged, in step with reconciliation? Minister.
Catherine McKen...: I mean, it's funny because I think we've even moved beyond. The economy and the environment are hand in hand. They're actually the same thing. You talked about this. The economic opportunity [00:33:30] with the need to act on climate is clear. So I think that we can't have everything being a trade-off because then you end up in a terrible place. So I think that's like number one.
But I mean I think, look, it's just math. As folks have said, emissions either go up and down. When you do a project, you're either driving emissions down as much as you can, including low carbon building materials, which we make, by the way, cross laminated timber or low carbon concrete or low carbon aluminum, [00:34:00] low ... I'm from the Hammer, probably people know, Hamilton, low carbon steel. That's a huge opportunity. But you have to be thoughtful and actually make sure that you're actually taking advantage of this opportunity.
And you also, it's on adaptation. You're either building something that is more or less resilient. And the once in 100-year flood, you better not be building for that because that is not where we are at right now. So you actually have to look at those scenarios. And it's really scenarios because it's going to depend what we all do as a country, but as [00:34:30] a planet in terms of whether we're actually going to hit well below two degrees or we're going to be at three or four. And those are very different scenarios.
I mean, I think it's just a level of discipline, but this is once again, why a National Infrastructure Assessment is so critically important. Because infrastructure decisions, it's not each little decision that's going to get you to net zero by 2050 or increase your competitiveness for that matter or growth. It's going to be every day looking at these opportunities.
A little bit though on [00:35:00] the reconciliation piece and other things that we want to get. I do think, and I say this as someone in government where I think about this a lot, outcomes, outcomes, outcomes. Every dollar we invest has to create growth and jobs. It just has to. And it will. That's the good news with infrastructure. We know, but you can maximize it or you can just kind of slide and build infrastructure. Of course, we're going to create some jobs, but you can be smart about it. And the infrastructure assessment, I should point out, also talks about how do we ensure that we're promoting [00:35:30] Canadian jobs, Canadian technology, Canadian infrastructure, because that is key.
We have seen this in United States. By the way, they are going to do a massive infrastructure bill. Good on them. That's great. I work very closely with the Biden Administration. But they're prioritizing their own products. I think we don't want to get into trade war or anything. But I think like, look, let's be proud in Canadian and we can compete with the best of them. And electric bus is one example. Leading electric bus manufacturers are all Canadian. It's [00:36:00] New Flyer out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It's Nova Bus. It's Lion Electric, other fuel cell technology.
So I think that you can do these things, but it does require like when you're saying you're going to do a project ... I think I didn't say the third thing. So first is jobs and growth. Second is net zero by 2050 and building resilience. And third is a better quality of life for all. And that is why with the bank, I've said, you need to invest a billion dollars in partnership with indigenous peoples where they have economic opportunities [00:36:30] and they're also building the infrastructure they need tackling a massive infrastructure deficit. So you can do those things. It's not fight. It just requires discipline. And I think that's why this assessment will be useful because it will help map that out for all levels of government and for other ...
Let's just be clear because maybe people I'm sure everyone listening knows this, but the federal government is a very small owner of infrastructure. The major owners of infrastructure are municipalities and indigenous communities, then provinces. And [00:37:00] of course, private sector and not-for-profits also are there, but we're a major funder.
I think that setting this framework up where there's agreement. It's not a government's decision. It's an independent body who is going to move forward, do more consultations, really map this out in the way that the UK has done. And interestingly in the UK, the infrastructure, the national infrastructure, the chair of the commission, Sir John Armitt, I talked to him and I said, "Well, does it work? [00:37:30] You're independent." And then government's, like, "What did they say?" He said that 97% of their recommendations have been accepted, including one that maybe we've hinted at, which I think is important beyond being independent, but is also a funding envelope that I do think it's important for governments to do somewhat like we've done on public transit. We've said $3 billion a year to have clarity on how much does the government want to invest? Because there's infinite needs. [00:38:00] And I think we need to understand that.
That'll be up to the commissioner in a future government. But I just having heard and thought about this a lot, I think that's really important because then it also says, well, "If we want to get more bill, we better really focus on the private sector's role as well because that'll be the conclusion."
But I think you can do these things. And that's why the National Infrastructure Assessment is important because it can help you see multiple goals as being consistent, not as a big fight.
Jan De Silva: Yeah. Tamara, any thoughts to [00:38:30] follow on that?
Tamara Vrooman: Certainly, it's an and, not an or. And we're seeing that the investment community and the financial community is also increasingly recognizing that. Shareholders are demanding that. So we need to create an infrastructure and a platform for society and the economy that reflects that as well so we can efficiently build for the economic and business growth that we need.
Jan De Silva: Unfortunately, that's all the time we have. Look, we've been ... We were a huge fan of the Infrastructure Bank itself, a tremendous, [00:39:00] a tremendous applause Minister to you and to the Infrastructure Bank for undertaking this assessment. It's exactly what we need. What's our starting point, and how do we figure out where do we go from here at scale?
Private sector, very strong interest in getting engaged in this. So I think there's just going to be tremendous amount of outcomes. We maybe need to not say outcome, outcome, outcome a lot, a five and six and seventh outcome to your list, minister. But thank you for that.
Catherine McKen...: Can I just say one thing, Jan? I just want to highlight how awesome it is to have three women here. I do [00:39:30] many events, and it's me and a bunch of guys. And that's great. But I think it is very special. So just a shout out, because I know that there are a lot of women kicking it on infrastructure who are watching. And I think it's important to recognize that you can have women leaders in a area that may be somewhat male dominated, but I think it is very good.
And just a huge thank you. Once again, I am leaving as you know to do other things. I think maybe the world needs to get off coal. That's my big moonshot [00:40:00] maybe. But it's just been a real pleasure and real pleasure working with the Board of Trade and your members who have weighed in and have very strong views, which is good. And also, with Tamara and the bank, it's just been really awesome. So huge thanks. Maybe I'll speak here in another role at some point, but it's probably moving on soon.
Jan De Silva: Okay. Wow. Well, before people sign off, I just don't want to leave the stage actually. I want to continue the conversation. But thank you both for joining us today. Thank you for a very informed, [00:40:30] thoughtful discussion, very timely discussion. I cannot tell you other than COVID the other big C that's on top of mind for our business members is the climate economy and climate, and what we're going to do about it. Everything's lining up. This is the right time to be taking these steps. Yes, we should have done it sooner, but now is the right time. And thank you for having two strong champions and leaders at this.
Before people sign off, I'll quickly highlight a related initiative from the board. We talked today about unlocking economic potential for infrastructure. [00:41:00] And that's especially true of housing. Two weeks ago, we released a report that found the Toronto region loses as much as $8 billion every year because of high housing costs. And we continue to lose more by not taking action. If you're a builder, an investor, or any partner of the housing sector, I encourage you to visit bot.com and look under Reports for that and many of our other policy and research papers. At that site, you'll also see upcoming events [00:41:30] and other projects we're working on.
Thank you for watching. Have a great rest of the day. This was terrific to do it live and in person. Thank you for joining us. Have a great day.