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Building Modern Infrastructure

Archived Backgrounder

Building Modern Infrastructure

Ministry of Finance

Modern infrastructure helps drive Ontario's economic growth and prosperity.

Before 2003, Ontario's electricity system had no long-term plan and little investment had been made in the province's electricity infrastructure in the previous decade. Investments in Ontario's public infrastructure - including schools and hospitals - were inadequate, to the detriment of Ontario families and businesses. 

Since 2003, the government has made major improvements to Ontario's public infrastructure, investing more than $85 billion to reverse the accumulated underinvestment.

All regions of Ontario have benefited from these investments, resulting in:

  • More than 7,900 kilometres of provincial highways built or repaired in Ontario, including more than 4,000 kilometres in northern Ontario
  • More than 950 bridges constructed or repaired on provincial highways
  • More than 100 major hospital projects initiated, including 40 in planning or under construction
  • 610 new schools opened, planned or under construction.

Building modern infrastructure is part of the Ontario government's plan to grow the economy and create jobs.

The Province will continue to make significant investments in infrastructure of more than $35 billion over the next three years, including about $13.5 billion in 2013-14.

Planned infrastructure investments over the next three years would support well over 100,000 jobs on average each year in construction and related industries across the province.

New initiatives include:

Ontario Trillium Trust

The Province would create a new Trillium Trust to finance key public infrastructure priorities. Gains from asset sales would be placed in the consolidated trust. The fund would include one-time proceeds from items such as the sale of the LCBO's Toronto head office and gains from Ontario's sale of its remaining interest in General Motors.

Ontario Green Bonds

The government would make Ontario the first province in Canada to develop and sell Green Bonds. Proceeds from these bonds would be invested in public transit and other environmentally friendly infrastructure projects across the province.

Pension Plan Investment in Ontario Infrastructure

The government will propose regulations that would allow Ontario pension plans to further invest in Ontario infrastructure by exempting plans' investments in certain Ontario public infrastructure projects from the rule limiting ownership in a single corporation to 30 per cent of voting shares.

This rule restricts Ontario pension plans from taking an active role in infrastructure and other investments. Its removal could represent a new source of capital to support economic growth and job creation in Ontario.

Ontario's First Long-Term Infrastructure Legislation

Building on its commitment to support the economy through infrastructure investments, Ontario is proposing to introduce legislation that would, if passed, require the government to table a 10-year infrastructure plan in the legislature.

Innovative Approaches to Infrastructure Investment

Ontario is a global leader for Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) projects. Through Infrastructure Ontario, the government is using the AFP model to help deliver projects on time and on budget.

To improve the delivery of large and complex projects, particularly large transit systems, the government is taking action to enhance the AFP approach to help companies of various sizes participate, while boosting opportunities for apprentices.

Also, Infrastructure Ontario will work with the Province's international trade offices to create export opportunities for Ontario's construction companies, engineers, architects and financial services.

Public Infrastructure Benefits Ontario's Economy

A 2013 Conference Board of Canada report cited Ontario's current and planned real infrastructure investments from 2006 to 2014, and reported that:

  • Each $100 million of public infrastructure investment in Ontario boosts GDP by $114 million, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sectors
  • Public infrastructure would add more than $1,000 to the average annual income of Ontarians by 2014 and lower the unemployment rate by about one percentage point compared to what it would have been in the absence of these investments.

Research shows that congestion costs Ontario's economy $6 billion each year in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area alone. It also takes valuable time away from families struggling to get to and from home.

Building Public Transit

One of the government's priorities is investing in public transit. Ontario is investing more than
$3 billion in transit infrastructure in 2013-14.

To help manage congestion, reduce transportation costs and improve the livability of cities, the government is:

  • Helping municipalities expand and improve public transit infrastructure with the now-permanent Dedicated Gas Tax Program
  • Increasing investments in GO Transit over the next 10 years to address underserviced areas, meet projected demand for peak-hour service and help lay the foundation for major transit initiatives
  • Seeking advice from its expert panel to evaluate dedicated sources of revenue to fund further investments in public transit infrastructure.

Investments in public transit are paying off. In 2011, there were 171 million more passenger trips on municipal transit systems than in 2003, resulting in approximately 143 million fewer car trips on Ontario's roads.

Building Highways

To support a modern, efficient highway network, the government is making strategic investments to expand provincial highways, including widening Highway 417 in Ottawa and Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon, as well as extending Highway 407 east through Durham Region.

Building Municipal Infrastructure

In the 2013 Budget, the government announced a new infrastructure fund to help small, rural and northern municipalities undertake critical infrastructure projects. 

Over the summer, the Province heard from more than 500 municipal delegates to help develop the new Small, Rural and Northern Municipal Infrastructure Fund, which will support road, bridge, water and wastewater projects, as well as previously submitted critical project proposals.

The fund will also help municipalities with populations less than 5,000 complete asset management plans to ensure that the highest priority projects are built.

The Province is continuing to take into account consultation feedback as it considers options to make the fund permanent through the 2014 Budget.

Investing in Health Infrastructure

The Province continues to make significant progress in ensuring the delivery of the right health care, at the right time, in the right place.

More than 100 major hospital projects are complete or underway, including:

  • Humber River Regional Hospital, which will provide increased patient capacity and expanded emergency services
  • St. Joseph's Health Care London's Specialized Mental Health Care and Forensic Mental Health Care projects, which involve the construction of two new buildings in London and St. Thomas
  • A new hospital in Cornwall, which will consolidate all acute and rehabilitation hospital services from two sites into one
  • Atikokan General Hospital, which will be redeveloped to provide state-of-the-art inpatient facilities
  • A new, state-of-the-art hospital in Windsor, which will better meet the health care needs in Windsor-Essex.

In addition, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is developing a long-term solution to address the capital investment needs of the community health care sector.

Investing in Education and Postsecondary Infrastructure

To support the highly educated workforce that Ontario's economy needs, the government will:

  • Invest in 610 new schools that have been opened, planned or are under construction across Ontario
  • Retrofit 48 schools to help meet the needs of the province's growing communities, revitalize older schools and improve the efficiency of education infrastructure
  • Invest in 20 capital projects throughout the province to support increasing college and university enrolment.

Ontario's Long-Term Energy Plan and Clean Energy

Over the last 10 years, more than 7,500 kilometres of electricity transmission and distribution lines have been upgraded in the province, representing an investment of more than $10 billion. Also, about 12,000 megawatts of new and refurbished generating capacity have been added, representing investments of more than $21 billion.

This summer, the government began consultations as part of its review process to update Ontario's 20-year Long-Term Energy Plan, which it has been regularly updating to forecast and plan for conservation and new supply to meet the province's electricity needs.

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