The Mowat Centre, an independent Ontarian public-policy think-tank, published its latest report, “From the Ground Up: The Role of Local Governments in Building Canada’s Economic Infrastructure.” In it, the group examines the link between public infrastructure, economic competitiveness, and the role of local government, while providing recommendations on how best to address Canada’s infrastructure gap.
The new federal government has made commitments to make major investments and to double federal infrastructure spending, providing an excellent platform to address Canada’s infrastructure needs. However, the Mowat Centre points out that even with higher levels of investment, it is imperative to be strategic and spend wisely.
To ensure a prominent role for municipalities, it advocates for an integrated infrastructure investment approach. Currently, there is no consistency across Canadian governments to support infrastructure planning and investments. Local governments, which own and manage the majority of Canada’s infrastructure, have inadequate engagement. This has created a notable gap where the federal government share has decreased to 12 per cent of capital stock, while the municipal share has grown to 51 per cent since the 1950s. The report, written by Sara Ditta, says:
Involving all orders of government—and strong coordination among them—is critical to strategic decision-making, particularly for infrastructure projects that will likely have the greatest impact on economic growth and productivity. Effective coordination will also take advantage of the value of the private sector, as it can and will play a key role in many trade-enabling and economic infrastructure projects. This will ultimately help ensure that infrastructure is built to meet an over-arching purpose—rather than the prevailing fragmented and piecemeal approach—maximizing the impact of every dollar spent toward infrastructure and harnessing economic growth opportunities to ensure future prosperity.