An April 11 article in the National Observer, “After massive investments , Trudeau government puts public transit on track” attempts to explain the political and bureaucratic tangle of the Canada Infrastructure Plan in the wake of a series of press releases by the federal government. Those press releases have announced $33 billion in funding for infrastructure projects through bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories, with the lion’s share – $20.1 billion – going to public transit. The National Observer article also profiles some public transit projects already announced or in progress: the 12.5-kilometre, 13 stations Ottawa light rail project; a $365 million plan to extend the Montreal’s Blue Line for five stops; Calgary’s Green Line LRT; Victoria B.C.’s plan to improve resilience against seismic activity; and new electric and hybrid buses for Gatineau and Laval, Quebec, and London Ontario. Another excellent update of Canada’s public transit appeared in Corporate Knights magazine in January 2018, “The e-bus revolution has arrived”. And in March, Winnipeg Transit released its report on electrification of its bus fleet- summarized by the CBC here ; Winnipeg is home to the New Flyer Industries, which manufactures the battery-electric buses in use.
Public transit is obviously good for reducing Canada’s transportation-related GHG emissions, and investments at this scale are obviously important sources of job creation. The Bilateral Letter of Agreement with Ontario states: “ a Climate Lens will be applied to these federal investments, and a Community Employment Benefits Reporting Framework will be applied for relevant programs under the Investing in Canada Plan. Both the Climate Lens and the Community Employment Benefits Reporting Framework will be developed in consultation with provinces, territories, municipalities and other stakeholders over the next few months and will be embedded in the integrated bilateral agreements once completed.” Community benefits agreements are already in place in some transit construction projects in Toronto, and Ontario passed the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015 , which states: “Infrastructure planning and investment should promote community benefits …. to improve the well-being of a community affected by the project, such as local job creation and training opportunities”.
For inspiration on another side of the issue, read the recent article, “Connecting green transit and great manufacturing jobs” in Portside on April 14. It provides a very detailed case study of the fight to bring domestic, union jobs to light rail manufacturing in Los Angeles, a campaign spearheaded by Jobs to Move America (JMA) . From their website, JMA “is dedicated to ensuring that the billions of public dollars spent on American infrastructure create better results for our communities: good jobs, cleaner equipment, and more opportunity for historically marginalized people.” Their website provides research papers and news updates.