Infrastructure is the backbone of our communities. It is what makes them wonderful places in which to live, work, and raise a family. That’s why our government is making historic investments to build the infrastructure our communities need to help grow their economies and provide a good quality of life for their residents. We are making these investments alongside our provincial, territorial and municipal partners, who have historically carried the burden of infrastructure investments without stable support from the federal government. This is why we have developed a long term, predictable, and flexible plan designed to support communities across the country.
Despite all this, we know that for small communities in Thunder Bay—Rainy River, the requirement for the local government to pay for a significant portion projects still presents a unique challenge. Unlike urban centres with large populations, rural communities have a very limited tax base and in the past have often lacked the capital investment required to partner with the other orders of government on major projects.
As your Member of Parliament, my priority is to represent your interests and advocate on your behalf. In recent months I have been working collaboratively with many of my colleagues who also represent smaller communities to ensure that the voices of rural Canadians continue to be heard. I’m very pleased to share with you some exciting news that has resulted from that important work.
Last Friday, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced that for small communities of 5,000 people or fewer, including many in Thunder Bay—Rainy River the federal government will be increasing the amount that it contributes to infrastructure projects from 50% to 60%. We will also require that the province continue to contribute at least 33% of the project cost, which means that small communities will only need to contribute a maximum of 7%.
By reducing the capital contribution required from small communities, we are reducing the burden on their tight budgets and helping ensure they can direct their funding towards providing services that residents rely on every day, such as public works, snow removal, and local policing. This decision will also help communities like ours build more infrastructure than would likely have been possible under the previous formula and ensure Northwestern Ontario benefits from our government’s historic investments in infrastructure.
For our community, this means additional federal funding for important local priorities. I am committed to continuing to work with local leaders to advocate for more investment in Thunder Bay—Rainy River. We are lucky to represent such a dynamic community and, together, we can ensure that it remains one of the best places in the country to call home.