How Canada’s P3 infrastructure model has helped Canadians weather the pandemic

September 23, 2020

As Canada continues to manage the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the nation’s infrastructure—albeit under enormous pressure in some areas (e.g., hospital facilities)—has demonstrated its resilience. This is in part thanks to the groundwork laid years earlier as the country’s infrastructure industry pioneered the Public-Private Partnership (P3) model.

Prior to the pandemic, 15 years of innovation and substantial financial investments at all levels of government turned Canada’s P3 model into the well-oiled machine it is today. The result: state-of-the-art hospitals, long-term care facilities and other major developments in the energy sector (such as the Bruce Power nuclear project in Ontario) that proved invaluable during the crisis.

The past six months have drawn into focus the importance to Canadian infrastructure and while great strides have been made,  the need for the rapid delivery of essential projects—nationwide broadband infrastructure is one notable example—has also become apparent. Thankfully, the Canadian P3 market is now well-established and ready to meet Canada’s infrastructure needs as they evolve.

Commenting on the strength of Canada’s P3 market, infrastructure partner and chair of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships (CCPPP) Mark Bain told ReNew Canada that the period between 2005 and 2015 was a critical time for the Canadian infrastructure industry where it tested and developed a “made in Canada” model of public-private partnerships.

“The idea of sustained P3 programs had taken hold after years of pilot projects across the country,” he said.

Mark also reflected on how—during this period—there was a growing excitement in the industry for an innovative approach to new projects.

“There wasn’t an existing mould to break,” he said.

Mark added that the lack of precedent and protocols in the emerging P3 market provided stakeholders with a clean slate, allowing them to explore the best ways to approach each project. This new style embraced collaboration, innovation and efficiency, which ultimately led to the development of remarkable cutting-edge projects that have improved the quality of life for Canadians across the country—and most recently, during a time of crisis.

Read about the federal government’s mandate to ensure universal access to broadband internet across Canada in our Q4 2019 Torys Quarterly article “Solving the broadband infrastructure gap”.

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