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Ontario announces infrastructure improvement plans

TORONTO, Ont. -- Dalton McGuinty's Ontario government has announced plans to restore infrastructure in the province...

TORONTO, Ont. — Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario government has announced plans to restore infrastructure in the province in preparation for future growth. .<br>
This will be accomplished through “a comprehensive framework for planning and financing the province’s investments in infrastructure,” said Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal David Caplan.<br>
“Ontarians deserve a new and better way of building the critical public infrastructure we all rely on,” Caplan said. “This framework sets new guidelines to ensure our schools, hospitals, public transit systems and other public infrastructure is built, paid for and managed in a way that ensures the best value for our money.” <br>
The new investment framework, entitled Building a Better Tomorrow: An Infrastructure Planning, Financing and Procurement Framework for Ontario’s Public Sector, contains guidelines that will be used to assess proposals for new infrastructure, select the best way to finance the project and make sure construction is completed on time and on budget.<br>
The framework establishes five fundamental principles governing the approval of infrastructure projects and the selection of financing options:<br>
1. The public interest is paramount <br>
2. Value for money must be demonstrated <br>
3. Appropriate public control/ownership must be preserved <br>
4. Accountability must be maintained <br>
5. All processes must be fair, transparent and efficient. <br>
The framework is part of the government’s 10-year strategy to restore Ontario’s public infrastructure and ensure future economic prosperity and will be applied to all infrastructure projects in which the province makes a significant investment, said a statement.<br>
This would include projects proposed by provincial ministries and agencies, municipalities, and public institutions like hospitals and universities in effect, all future public infrastructure projects of any substantial size.<br>
It provides that public ownership and control will be maintained for hospitals, publicly-funded schools and water treatment systems and will also ensure that projects meet the priorities established in the province’s 10-year plan for infrastructure, which is being developed now and will be released later this year. <br>
The government has identified several sources for these investments, including:<br>
-Direct grants from the provincial capital budget, which is $3.3 billion this year, an increase of 17 per cent over the previous government’s allocation; <br>
-Federal-provincial shared cost programs like funding for GO Transit and the TTC, and the Canada-Ontario Municipal and Rural Infrastructure Program; <br>
-Pooled financing and low rate loans to municipalities and other public sector partners through the Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority; <br>
-Public and private sector partnerships including investments from pension funds and others, under certain conditions; <br>
-New local government investment tools, such as gas tax; and <br>
– User fees, where appropriate and regulated.<br>
“Over the next 30 years Ontario will be running a construction program worth more than $100 billion,” Minister Caplan said. “We need to apply intelligent, responsible and ethical business principles to running that program. By instituting a better way of building the public infrastructure, this framework will help deliver the real, positive change that will make Ontario strong, healthy and prosperous.”<br>

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