Canada: Infrastructure Spending, Blueprints Pending: 2017 Federal Budget

On March 22, 2017, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2017 federal budget, titled "Building a Strong Middle Class" (Budget 2017). While Budget 2017 did not introduce significant new infrastructure spending measures, it does provide limited additional details on a number of previously announced infrastructure initiatives and clearly reaffirms the government's commitment to continued infrastructure investment over the coming years.


As previously announced in the Fall Economic Statement 2016, Budget 2017 confirms that the government will be making additional infrastructure investments of C$81-billion over the next 11 years, starting in 2017-18, in support of public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, transportation supporting international trade, projects that support Canada's rural and northern communities, and now smart cities.

Budget 2017 also provides a glimpse into the implementation status of previously announced infrastructure investments from Budget 2016, revealing that only C$3.967-billion of those allocated funds have been spent to date. That figure represents 50 to 75 per cent of investment planned for the current period and is the lowest implementation factor of the various categories of Budget 2016 planned spending. Budget 2017 assures us that this "slippage" is not a signal of lagging activity but rather due to the milestone payment structure for complex infrastructure projects.


Budget 2017 recaps the government's commitment in its Fall Economic Statement 2016 to establish the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). In keeping with the theme of Budget 2017, the government pitches the CIB as a vehicle to leverage expertise and capital of the private sector to maximize opportunities to create jobs needed to grow the middle class and, over the long term, strengthen the economy. Unfortunately, consistent with past announcements, the very limited additional detail provided in Budget 2017 sheds little light on the government's actual implementation strategy.

As discussed in our November 2016 Blakes Bulletin: 2016 Federal Fiscal Update: Banking on Infrastructure, the CIB represents a potentially profound development in how infrastructure projects are funded and delivered in Canada. However, at the time of its announcement, a number of important questions about the CIB remained unanswered and Budget 2017 provides limited additional specifics on how the CIB institution will operate or what sort of investment strategy/guidelines it will follow.

Budget 2017 does confirm that the CIB will pursue a mandate to "structure, negotiate and deliver federal support for infrastructure projects with revenue-generating potential" and will be responsible for investing at least C$35-billion over 11 years, using an (as-of-yet unspecified) blend of loans, loan guarantees and equity investments. Budget 2017 also confirms that the CIB will focus on large, transformative projects such as regional transit plans, transportation networks and electricity grid interconnections. While no indication is given as to an all-in cost threshold for investment projects, Budget 2017 does stipulate that over the next 11 years the CIB will:

  • Invest at least C$5-billion in public transit systems
  • Make at least C$5-billion available for green infrastructure projects
  • Invest at least C$5-billion to address trade and transportation priorities.

Budget 2017 commits to an "accelerated implementation" schedule for the CIB, with a stated goal of having the CIB operational in late 2017. In pursuit of this ambitious target, Budget 2017 promises that the government will "soon" propose legislation to establish the CIB and begin a process to identify the bank's chief executive officer and chairperson of the board of directors.

Budget 2017 further proposes to invest C$256-million over five years for Canada to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as the first North American member, with a view to building multilateral engagement. Canada's membership at the AIIB is intended to support economic growth in Asia by promoting investments in infrastructure projects, including in the transportation and energy sectors.


Following a commitment to upgrade and improve public transit systems as announced in Budget 2016 (C$3.4-billion over three years), Budget 2017 promises to invest C$20.1-billion over 11 years. Investment will be through bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, with allocations to be based on a formula of ridership (70 per cent) to population (30 per cent). As mentioned above, this investment will be supported by an additional C$5-billion investment from the CIB.

Budget 2017 specifically notes Stage 2 of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Project, the Calgary Green Line LRT, enhancement of Metrolinx's GO Regional Express Rail program, the Réseau électrique métropolitain, and the Vancouver Broadway subway project as transformative transit projects to be completed over the next decade. However, there is no indication as to whether any of these projects — some of which are currently in the implementation stage — will be the recipient of government or CIB funding.


Contrary to the expectations of some industry watchers, Budget 2017 does not contain a general commitment to divestment of the federal government's existing infrastructure assets. It announces that the government intends to initiate three new expenditure management initiatives, including a "three-year horizontal review of federal fixed assets" to be undertaken in stages by asset type with a view to identifying ways to enhance or generate greater value from government assets. Two examples of assets are cited: engineering assets and science facilities. There is no indication that monetization of these assets is currently being contemplated.


One of the few new infrastructure-related spending measures announced in Budget 2017 is the Smart Cities Challenge Fund. The initiative will invite cities across Canada to partner with businesses and civil society to compete and develop "Smart Cities Plans" to improve the quality of life for urban residents through better city planning and implementation of clean, digitally connected technology (i.e., green buildings, smart roads and energy systems, and advanced digital connections for homes and businesses). The Smart Cities Plans will be entered into a nationwide, merit-based competition facilitated by the new Impact Canada Fund. Canada's Smart Cities Challenge will be funded by C$300-million provided to Infrastructure Canada over 11 years. No specifics have been released on the number or value of prizes available to winning cities under the Smart Cities Challenge.


In support of the government's commitment to innovation, Budget 2017 announces proposed funding of up to C$950-million over five years, starting in 2017-18, to be provided on a competitive basis to a small number of business-led innovation "superclusters." These superclusters are envisioned as Silicon Valley-like areas of business activity that will act as "engines of growth" by promoting innovation and knowledge-sharing with a view to attracting like companies from around the world. Funding for the superclusters will be awarded via some form of competition launching in 2017. We note this initiative because the stated focus of the program is on "highly innovative industries," which includes infrastructure and transportation.


Budget 2017 also announces the upcoming launch of a new data initiative focused on providing all levels of government with more robust data to better measure the impact of infrastructure spending and improve the targeting of infrastructure investments. The as-of-yet unnamed "data initiative" will be a joint effort between the newly created CIB, the provinces, territories, municipalities and Statistics Canada.

The data initiative will support efforts to provide comparative data on infrastructure demand and usage, present a national picture of the state and performance of public infrastructure across asset classes, promote data-driven decision-making, and track the impact of infrastructure investment to facilitate accurate reporting.

Budget 2017 promises that further details on the data initiative will be announced in the coming months.


Budget 2017 demonstrates a continued commitment by the government to the renewal and development of infrastructure in Canada with its reaffirmation of a strong infrastructure spending pipeline, commitment to public transit spending, creation of the smart cities platform and the new data initiative to measure the impact of infrastructure spending.

However, Budget 2017 is also notable for the gaps in its infrastructure-related coverage, namely long-awaited details on the CIB, more specificity in its transaction pipeline, and a commitment to federal asset monetization. Industry participants will be looking forward to future announcements to shed some much-needed light on some unanswered questions as they look to develop, invest in and construct infrastructure projects in Canada.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
23 Jan 2018, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

Blakes invites you to attend a seminar focused on the importance of intellectual property, with a particular emphasis on the oil and gas sector. Blakes lawyers and patent agents will highlight the key elements of each topic listed below and provide forecasts and constructive recommendations.

24 Jan 2018, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

We invite you to join members of our National Restructuring & Insolvency Group as they review key restructuring and insolvency developments and trends across Canada in 2017.

31 Jan 2018, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada and the Alberta Court of Appeal issued a number of decisions over the past five years that have significantly impacted businesses and commercial disputes.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions