Speaking Points by the Hon. Catherine McKenna Minister of Infrastructure and Communities for the Federal Gas Tax Fund advanced payment announcement Press Conference

Speech

The health and well-being of Canadians has been—and will continue to be—the top priority of our government. But this pandemic has affected more than our personal health. It has also affected our economy. Which is why our Government has been taking decisive action to support families, businesses and communities, and it’s why we’re looking ahead to see what more can be done.

We can help by continuing to develop infrastructure projects throughout the country. For example, electric buses, renewable energies, and water projects that will help create good jobs and help communities to get back on their feet.

Federal Gas Tax Fund Update

Our Government understands the challenging situation that cities and towns are in. I have spoken with mayors from across the country, and I’ve heard about their significant COVID-related financial pressures, in particular in relation to public transit. Our Government is having important conversations with provinces and territories about this pressing issue.

As the Prime Minister said a short time ago, today’s announcement is a start. We know that more is needed to help municipalities. But every voyage begins with a first step.

To make sure cities and towns have the resources they need to get and keep infrastructure projects going, we are speeding up this year’s funding delivered through the federal Gas Tax Fund.

Instead of delivering two payments -- one in the summer and one later in the year -- we’re delivering the full 2020-2021 amount to communities this month.

Our government recognizes the need to be flexible during this crisis. By getting this money out early we are contributing to a safe restart - helping communities get back on their feet, supporting them to get more infrastructure built like high speed broadband, public transit and wastewater, creating jobs, and building a stronger, cleaner and healthier and more connected country.

For communities to have the resources they need to launch the economy and projects, and as the Prime Minister announced this morning, we are accelerating this year’s funding through the Gas Tax Fund.

Instead of making two payments, one in the summer and one later in the year, we will be providing the entire amount to municipalities in June.

This is one step to help municipalities. By quickly disbursing municipal funds, we are ensuring that this recovery to help municipalities get back on their feet, helping them create new infrastructure, like broadband infrastructure, public transit, and wastewater projects, helping them to create jobs and to create a more connected and stronger economy.

Each year, this federal Fund provides $2.2 billion to cities and towns and First Nations communities and supports thousands of local infrastructure projects.

  • Projects like the 1,550 solar panels installed in the District of Hudson’s Hope in British Columbia.
  • And improvements to the Legacy Trail between Canmore and Banff
  • Or the rehabilitation of the Sid Buckwold Bridge in Saskatoon.
  • Dollars from this fund are helping with pool upgrades in Winnipeg, and with storm water management in Mississauga.
  • These funds helped electrify buses in Laval and funded recharge stations in New Brunswick.

This ongoing funding can be:

  • used immediately by municipalities for priority projects,
  • it can be banked for later use,
  • pooled with other communities for shared infrastructure projects,
  • or used to help finance big-ticket projects that can pay community dividends for decades to come.

While we are facing the greatest health, social, and economic challenges in our country, more municipalities in the country will be able to take investment decisions to invest in the projects they need. Investments that will help them strengthen municipalities during this pandemic and help build cleaner, healthier, stronger and more connected municipalities.

We all benefit when Canada builds, and the accelerated federal Gas Tax Fund payment is just one way we are showing flexibility in response to the pandemic - helping Canadians and their communities adapt and recover, get people working, and building a stronger, cleaner, healthier and more connected country for the future.

As the Prime Minister said this morning: “This is a start. We know there’s more to be done to support municipalities. So we’ll keep working with the provinces and territories, with more to come.”

Thank you.


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