Our economy and our quality of life depend on good public infrastructure.
The government of Ontario has taken significant steps to reverse the massive infrastructure deficit — estimated at tens of billions of dollars — that had accumulated over the last several decades and was threatening our long-term prosperity.
Since 2003, the government has invested $62 billion in infrastructure. As Chart 1 makes clear, the province has not seen this level of investment since the post-war era, when many of the foundations of our present-day infrastructure, including the 400-series highways and the Toronto subway, were first laid.
Chart 1 - Average Annual Change in Per Capita Net Public Stock
The purpose of this plan is to chart a course forward for Ontario’s infrastructure.
Despite record levels of investment over the last seven years, the case for continued investment and strategic planning is as compelling as ever. Our competitiveness is at stake. Jurisdictions around the world are pouring massive new resources into infrastructure to address their own infrastructure deficits and to spur economic growth.
Over the last six years, the Province has averaged $10 billion in infrastructure investments per year. Through this plan, the Province expects to continue significant investments in public infrastructure over the next decade, and will begin by investing more than $35 billion over the next three years. Infrastructure investments will drive continued economic growth and enhanced quality of life. Transportation, education, and health care will be significant priorities.
The plan responds to projected long-term economic, demographic, and environmental changes. These include a more global and service-oriented economy; a larger, older, and more urbanized population; and the effects of a changing climate.
Key investment priorities will include:
Getting Ontario’s goods to market with better highways, bridges, and border crossings
Finishing major projects, including the Windsor-Essex Parkway, which is expected to reduce travel time to the border by close to 20 minutes on average for each of the 6,500 trucks that cross every day, and the 407 East extension, which will add east-west capacity through Durham Region by carrying as many as 6,000 vehicles an hour in each direction
Expanding Ontario’s network of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which have been shown to shorten driving time for all traffic
Rehabilitating highways, bridges, culverts, and other structures to meet state-of-good-repair targets
Adding at least 500 centreline-kilometres of highway where warranted by growth and demand
Giving commuters fast, affordable, and environmentally sound transit options
Improving and expanding transit with the ultimate goal of creating a truly regional transit system in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and helping reach GO Transit’s goal of increasing ridership to more than 100 million trips a year
Supporting transit in Ontario’s growing urban areas, including Ottawa and Waterloo Region
Educating a strong and innovative workforce
Completing the rollout of full-day kindergarten across the province
Ensuring a system of elementary and secondary schools that meets present and future needs and is in an appropriate state of repair
Finishing construction of 49 postsecondary projects through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, which with other initiatives will help to create more than 36,000 new spaces
Ensuring that infrastructure investments respond to demand and support the goal of a 70 per cent attainment rate for postsecondary education
Adding to Ontario’s knowledge infrastructure that includes research facilities, commercialization hubs, and broadband assets
Ensuring healthier lifetime outcomes
Expediting the shift towards a model that is focused on providing an aging population with appropriate health supports at home and in the community to help ease pressures on hospitals
Completing the 27 major hospital projects under construction, and continuing to invest in hospital expansions and redevelopment projects, subject to fiscal capacity
Investing in three to five major hospital expansions and redevelopment projects each year, subject to fiscal capacity
Helping Ontario’s rural areas, regions, and cities
Providing investment and other supports to smaller communities that lack the capacity to address water-related infrastructure needs on their own
Enhancing the Trans-Canada Highway corridors in northern Ontario
Improving broadband access in rural and remote areas
Continuing to find ways and means to work with other orders of government to build and renovate social and affordable housing
This plan also sets out directions to ensure effective investments in cultural and tourism infrastructure, in the justice system, in supporting the delivery of social services, in ensuring accessibility, and in providing more streamlined access to government services.
Ultimately, this plan is designed to give municipalities, the broader public sector, and industry greater clarity and predictability to plan for Ontario’s collective infrastructure needs.
To implement this plan, Ontario will:
Make greater use of Infrastructure Ontario to procure the province’s infrastructure. This will drive savings for the public and help the province maintain its status as one of the most dynamic infrastructure procurement markets in the world.
Consult with its public sector partners on developing asset management plans that would build on and consolidate existing requirements. These plans, which would be phased in over time, would be required of organizations seeking significant provincial capital funds. Good asset management practices allow public and private organizations to achieve better value from existing infrastructure and set future priorities.
Adopt a 10-year perspective for infrastructure planning, while making decisions to move ahead on specific projects through the Province’s annual planning and budgeting processes.
Support a strong and competitive construction sector within Ontario and promote its products and services internationally.
Work with the federal government, municipalities, neighbouring jurisdictions, and Aboriginal peoples to address together the challenges of the current infrastructure deficit and emerging needs.
In summary, this plan sets out an infrastructure investment program that will act as a catalyst for economic growth and better quality of life.