The Government of Québec released the Québec Infrastructure Plan (Plan) which allows for $29.7 billion to be invested in public infrastructure over the next five years. These investments will aid in the modernization and repair of roads, hospitals, schools and municipal infrastructure. There will also be an allocation of funds towards public transit, public security, public housing, research and cultural activities.
The Government of Québec wants to eliminate the public infrastructure maintenance deficit that has accumulated over the past years through investments in the Plan. It is also hoped that within the next fifteen years, Québec will be on par with the rest of Canada and the United States with respect to the deficit amount. The Plan allows for the following division of funds and expenses: (For table click here)
The Minister of Health suggested that approximately 2,600 buildings within the health care system will be renovated and modernized. The remaining funds will be used to finance existing projects, including many hospital projects. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Regions announced investments of $1.2 billion to improve water treatment and purification facilities and a further $1.95 billion to renovate other municipal assets.
To enable these investments, the President of the Conseil du trésor tabled An Act to promote rigorous management of public infrastructures and large projects (Bill 32) in the National Assembly. The Bill specifies that the Conseil du trésor would be called upon to submit to the government a capital budget for public infrastructure annually. This budget must specify amounts allocated to the maintenance of existing infrastructures, the elimination of the maintenance deficit within fifteen years and the improvement or replacement of infrastructure. Under this Bill, the President of the Conseil du trésor or the responsible Minister for a public body may later request that such public body provide all necessary information to establish the capital budget and an annual report detailing allocation amounts. Lastly, the capital budget and the annual report would then be tabled in the National Assembly by the chair of the Conseil du trésor for review.
This Bill also provides a governance framework for large-scale projects in order to reduce cost overrun risks and project completion delays. Projects must be reviewed independently by a ministry, or other public body considering a large scale project valued at over $40 million, in conjunction with the Agence des partenariats public-privé du Québec. Should the project not be carried out as a public-private partnership (P3), a committee comprised of independent experts will then be responsible for making recommendations on the business case.
This approach is very similar to the one adopted by the Government of British Columbia, where any infrastructure projects over $20 million must be reviewed to determine whether a P3 model or a traditional model is the best approach.
For Bill 32 to pass, the government will require the support of at least one of the opposition parties. Currently, this Plan and Bill have been favourably received.