The Hon. Monte McNaughton was appointed Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure on June 29, 2018.  He recently spoke with Mediaplanet about his priorities for infrastructure and the role of the P3 model in Ontario.

Mediaplanet What are the new government's priorities to develop infrastructure in Ontario? Where does your focus lie?

Monte McNaughton: We are committed to making life easier for families, businesses, seniors, and students and to sending a message that Ontario is open for business.

Transit projects across the province are a big priority for us. Ontario’s current Integrated Bilateral Agreement (IBA) with the federal government provides for $11.8 billion in infrastructure investments across the province including $8.3 billion for public transit. I want to make sure that this funding goes towards those projects that are needed and that have a strong business case. To accomplish this, my ministry is working to align federal funding with provincial and municipal priorities.

Access to broadband internet and cellular coverage is a key part of supporting economic growth in all of our communities and is an important focus of our government.

We know we have challenges in other areas, like healthcare, where infrastructure may be part of the solution.  My ministry is committed to ensuring we are getting the most out of our existing infrastructure, and making the right investments in the right places.

MP: What role would you say private partners play in developing infrastructure through the P3 model?

Monte McNaughton: The P3 model has been a key tool in Ontario, having been used to deliver a number of large and complex infrastructure projects. The province uses a number of strategic approaches, including both the public-private arrangement approach and the traditional procurement method, to deliver infrastructure projects such as hospitals, court houses, jails, roads and transit.

To ensure P3s are used where they make the most sense, we are creating a more streamlined and consistent approach for evaluating projects for delivery model selection and exploring ways to reduce long-term financing costs. This includes a recently-updated Value for Money Guide to reflect best practices in evaluating the business case for project delivery.

MP: Which infrastructure projects stand out to you in Ontario at the moment?

Monte McNaughton: Our Government for the people recognizes that whether you live in our province’s biggest cities or smallest towns, investing in infrastructure both grows our economy and protects critical assets.

My ministry will work across the Ontario Government and with our municipal partners to foster a robust economic climate. We want to leverage the capacity of the private sector in order to enable the delivery of vital infrastructure. This will stimulate growth and prosperity across Ontario, create and support good jobs in all sectors of our economy, including manufacturing, construction and those within the high-tech industry.

I am committed to increasing access to modern, reliable broadband, and exploring ways to expand natural gas – this will make life more affordable and attract new jobs throughout the province. Such investments can improve access to untapped capital, create cost savings and expand access to community services, transportation, and assist in ending hallway healthcare.

MP: Why is infrastructure so important to the economy, and communities in Ontario?

Monte McNaughton: Past experiences have demonstrated that investments in infrastructure have a direct and indirect impact on the economy.

A 2017 The Centre for Spatial Economics study commissioned by the Province, highlighted some of these benefits. The study found that the long term economic return to the province, as measured by GDP, is up to $6 for every dollar invested in infrastructure. But to realize these benefits, it’s important to ensure that we invest in the right infrastructure, at the right time and in the right place.

When done right, investments in public infrastructure can help to lower business costs and attract more business to Ontario.