The Government of Ontario recently introduced Bill 141, An Act to enact the Infrastructure for Jobs and
Prosperity Act, 2013 (2nd Sess., 40th Leg., Ontario, 2013) (the
"Act") which, if passed, would create substantial
opportunities for public-private partnership ("PPP")
transactions in the province. Introduced on November 26, 2013, the
Act would require Ontario to regularly table a long-term
infrastructure plan in the legislature covering a period of at
least 10 years. As stated by Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray,
the Act focuses "on better evidence planning — not to
just understand the cost of things but to actually understand what
the return on investment [would be]." The first plan is to be
tabled within three years of the legislation coming into force and
subsequent plans are to be tabled every five years. As Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star points
out, public institutions must commit to long-term planning in order
to break free of the downward spiral of immediate cost
The Act's emphasis on long-term planning is a much needed
legislative response to Ontario's crumbling infrastructure. For
example, many of the province's transit systems require urgent
infrastructure renewal and investment. According to EDI Weekly, severe gridlock and congestion in
the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is estimated to cost C$6
billion a year in lost productivity. If passed, the Act would
ensure that future infrastructure projects in Ontario respond to
these infrastructure needs with considered and deliberate planning.
Such planning will no doubt include an increased involvement of PPP
transactions, given the efficiency and effectiveness provided by
PPP projects. The Act's dedication to long-term infrastructure
planning is bolstered by Premier Wynne's promise to spend C$35
billion on infrastructure over the next three years.
The guiding principles of the Act would require the public
sector to consider economic trends and economic competitiveness
when planning infrastructure projects. This mandate increases the
attractiveness of PPP transactions, since these transactions
provide a cost-effective commercial approach to infrastructure
development and help reduce government debt by transferring risk to
the private sector. Factors that would be considered when
prioritizing planned projects include the following: a full
consideration of all related capital and lifecycle costs; a
long-term return on investment; a maximized tax-base growth; and
protection of the environment through a consideration of the
impacts of severe weather on infrastructure. The Act's
principles also promote innovative technologies and require the
involvement of architects and experienced design experts for
certain projects. A focus on innovation and the use of design
professionals further enhance PPP transaction opportunities, given
that private sector expertise and experience can encourage creative
modernization and better quality in design.
Additionally, the Act would prioritize infrastructure projects
that align with provincial plans, including the growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe;
transportation plans under the Metrolinx Act, 2006; the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan; and municipal
water sustainability plans under the Water Opportunities Act, 2010. As a result,
PPP transactions for infrastructure projects in these areas would
have even greater potential for public sector support. Recognizing
the province's need for skilled trade workers, the proposed
legislation would also require the government to involve
apprentices in the construction of certain provincial
infrastructure projects. Overall, if passed, the Act would amplify
opportunities to invest in Ontario infrastructure and consequently
open doors for private sector involvement and PPP transactions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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