Federal Road Program
Res #: 31-02M
Responses Received: No
Departments: Transport Canada
WHEREAS, recent indications are that the Federal Government is considering the twinning of the TransCanada Highway throughout Canada and funding the same by way of either new dedicated road fuel taxes or highway toll fees; and
WHEREAS, highway and road infrastructure are vital to the economy and the Government of Canada already collects billions of dollars in road fuel taxes and does not dedicate the road fuel tax to highway infrastructure;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the SARM lobby the Federal Government to encourage investment in new highway and municipal road infrastructure utilizing funding from existing road fuel taxes and oppose any new road fuel taxes and/or highway tolls.
Reponse from Andrew Brooke, Special Assistant to Hon. David Collenette, Minister of Transport:
As you may be aware, in Canada, highways fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, including highway segments that comprise the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) and the National Highway System (NHS). Provincial and territorial governments are thus responsible for deciding on the design, construction, safety standards and financing of highways under their jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, Transport Canada is concerned with the condition of the highway system and its ability to handle the increasing volume of traffic. The government is aware that the efficient movement of people and goods is vital to the national economy. It is partially for these reasons that the federal government has contributed to provincial and territorial highway construction through a series of federal-provincial/territorial cost-shared agreements over the past 80 years.
The $600 million Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program (SHIP), for which funding was announced in Budget 2000, allows Transport Canada to continue to partner with provinces and territories to identify the areas of greatest need. To date, 11 federal-provincial/territorial partnership agreements have been signed under the highway construction component of SHIP. The Canada-Saskatchewan agreement was signed on January 24, 2002, to provide $37 million in total funding, cost-shared equally by the provincial and federal governments for highway improvement projects in Saskatchewan. I should point out that, under the SHIP, it is the responsibility of the Province of Saskatchewan to propose the specific projects to be funded under the agreement.
On August 9, 2002, the Honourable Allan Rock, Minister of Industy and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, announced the $2 billion Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund (CSIF), which was introduced in the 2001 budget. This fund will provide assistance to large-scale strategic infrastructure projects in cooperation with provincial/territorial, municipal and private sector partners. Eligible infrastructure includes highways, rail, local transportation, tourism, and urban development, among other initiatives. Minister Collenette is working closely with Minister Rock to identify worthy projects for transportation infrastructure. As such, I have taken the liberty of forwarding your correspondence to the office of the Honourable Allan Rock, for consideration.
With respect to fuel taxes, I should note that increasing the federal fuel tax is not considered a practical policy option. The Minister's statements in that regard, which were published in the national media, have been clarified. As all matters pertaining to federal taxes fall within the purview of the Minister of Finance, the Honourable John Manley, I have taken the liberty of forwarding your correspondence to his office for consideration.