CivicAction statement on the 2015 federal budget
CivicAction and its partners have helped build broad support for a better regional transportation network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) through dedicated and sustainable investment from all levels of government. “We can’t tackle our gridlock without the federal government at the table. It is a positive sign to see the launch of the Public Transit Fund, as a step towards the long-term, predictable investments we’ll need to get our residents and businesses moving faster across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction.
The 2016 federal budget commitment to provide funding of $750 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, and $1 billion per year ongoing thereafter for a new Public Transit Fund for transportation infrastructure is a positive move in the right direction.
Urban regions like the GTHA rely on efficient infrastructure to keep people and goods moving, and we urgently need greater investment, a message that CivicAction heard loud and clear through our Your32 Regional Transportation campaign. Given the GTHA represents one-fifth of Canada’s GDP, we hope to see a significant portion of funding available for projects in our region identified soon.
The new Public Transit Fund is a notable addition to the funds that the federal government has allocated for infrastructure in recent years, particularly in its dedicated focus on public transit. This allocation of funding, however, represents a modest share of the investment required, as full implementation of a GTHA transportation plan, with construction, operating and maintenance expenses, is estimated to cost around $80 billion, with roughly $50 billion still unfunded. And, the requirement of applying to a fund could make it challenging to ensure predictable funding over the long term.
On other fronts, we are pleased that the federal government is giving attention to some of the issues on the agenda for CivicAction’s April 28th Summit, Better City Bootcamp. We will welcome the Honourable Lisa Raitt, PC, MP, Minister of Transport to speak at the Summit about the federal government’s priorities and their alignment with our Summit focus on personal and community health and resilience.
At the Summit, more than 600 leaders from the public, private, labour, and non-profit sectors will join thousands more through live-streaming and satellite locations to tackle five interrelated themes: Infrastructure needs of tomorrow; Public space; Housing affordability and the growing need to match seniors’ healthcare to housing options, Mental health support in the workplace; and Childhood Health – the Importance of the ‘first 1000 days’. Each of these themes requires collaborative action across numerous sectors, and we are glad the federal government will be at the table with us.