The federal government seeks to create a new institution for funding infrastructure investment––the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). In Canada, it is governments at all levels that tend to hold the primary role in the planning, building (i.e. as sponsor), managing and financing of infrastructure. Other than in the construction phase, the private sector is a relatively niche player in the lifecycle of infrastructure assets. The CIB aims to be a catalyst for including the private sector in the other aspects of the lifecycle. The untested presumption is that service levels, externalities and competition will remain constant (at least) while risk will be transferred from the public to the private sector. However, this has rarely been the case with public-private partnerships (PPPs)––the oft-cited private-sector solution to public-sector infrastructure folly. Indeed, with the private sector owning and managing infrastructure assets, the cost of capital is likely go up.
In the 2016 Fall Economic Statement, the federal government outlined the broad strokes of its soon to be established CIB. A key recommendation of the Finance Minister’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth and Prosperity, the federal government expounded further on the CIB in Budget 2017 and again, more recently, in the Budget Implementation Act (BIA). The BIA has put even more meat on the bone, although information on this one-of-a-kind crown agency still makes for some pretty thin pickings and public consultations appear to be sparse.