2014 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review
Chapter I: Building Opportunity, Securing Our Future

Section C: Building Modern Infrastructure and Transportation Networks

The Province’s plan for the economy is founded on world-class infrastructure that will enhance the quality of life for Ontarians, support economic growth, increase productivity and meet future demographic needs.

Ontario is planning to invest more than $130 billion in public infrastructure over the next 10 years, including $12.8 billion in 2014–15. These investments will focus on transportation, health care and education, and are expected to support over 110,000 jobs on average each year.

This commitment builds on nearly $100 billion in infrastructure investments by the Province since 2003, which have helped make Ontario safer, more competitive and more productive.

The Case for Investing in Public Infrastructure Is Strong

Experts agree that to remain economically strong and competitive, governments must invest in maintaining, renewing and developing infrastructure. Experts also agree that public infrastructure provides a good return on investment. For example:

  • The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) October 2014 World Economic Outlook report shows that productive and efficient infrastructure investment can provide a much-needed boost to productivity and output.1
  • In June 2014, former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge stated that with low interest rates, now is the right time for governments and the private sector to invest in infrastructure.2
  • An April 2013 report by the Conference Board of Canada found that each dollar invested in public infrastructure in Ontario raises gross domestic product by $1.14 in the near term.3

1   International Monetary Fund, “World Economic Outlook: Legacies, Clouds, Uncertainties,” (October 2014).
2  David Dodge, Richard Dion and John Weekes, “Bennett Jones Spring 2014 Economic Outlook,” (June 2014).
3  Pedro Antunes and Jacqueline Palladini, “The Economic Impact of Ontario’s Infrastructure Investment Program,” Conference Board of Canada, (April 2013).

Ontario remains committed to long-term infrastructure planning to make investments that benefit Ontarians and the economy. That is why, on July 7, 2014, the Province introduced Bill 6, the proposed Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2014. The proposed legislation would require current and future governments to regularly prepare long-term infrastructure plans and further improve the way the Province prioritizes infrastructure needs.

Continuing to Move Ontario Forward

In the 2014 Budget, the Province provided details of the Moving Ontario Forward plan to make nearly $29 billion in dedicated funding available over the next 10 years for public transit, highways and other priority infrastructure projects across the province. This is part of Ontario’s plan to invest over $130 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years.

Moving Ontario Forward will invest $15 billion in transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and nearly $14 billion in critical infrastructure projects elsewhere in Ontario in a fair, accountable and transparent manner.

Dedicated Funding for Priority Projects in the GTHA

The dedicated funding for the GTHA will be invested in public transit priorities that address congestion and improve mobility throughout the region.

A key priority for the Province is transforming the GO Transit network to a Regional Express Rail (RER) service. Regional Express Rail will give residents significant new travel choices along the GO corridors, including electrified service running at up to 15-minute frequencies. The Ministry of Transportation and Metrolinx are working closely together to develop and implement a plan to realize the RER vision over the next 10 years.

In addition to RER, dedicated funding will be used to build priority rapid transit projects connecting to GO Transit and other transit systems across the GTHA. These projects will largely be drawn from the Next Wave of projects in The Big Move, Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan.

The Province is working with Metrolinx to undertake rigorous business-case analysis to inform how best to prioritize these projects in the GTHA. This will ensure that decisions are based on the best evidence available.

Dedicated Funding for Priority Projects Outside the GTHA

Outside the GTHA, the dedicated funding will be used to support priority infrastructure projects. The Province will work with Ontario regions and communities to identify projects that enhance economic growth and address critical infrastructure needs through an evidence-based process.

Modernizing Infrastructure in Communities across Ontario

As a key early step in implementing Moving Ontario Forward, the Province announced its continuing support for strong communities with the launch of the new permanent Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund on August 18, 2014.

The fund will provide $100 million per year for investments in roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure projects in small, rural and northern communities. This includes $50 million per year in application-based funding and another $50 million per year in stable, predictable formula-based funding.

The fund’s design was informed by consultations with more than 500 municipal delegates in the summer of 2013.

The Province also launched an intake process to identify priority infrastructure projects for the federal government’s Small Communities Fund. Through this fund, Ontario and the federal government will each provide $272 million to support community projects in municipalities with populations of less than 100,000. The Small Communities Fund is part of the federal government’s 10-year New Building Canada Fund.

Funding decisions are expected to be made early in 2015.

Other priority projects outside the GTHA could include local and regional transit; roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure; funding for bus and rail infrastructure delivered by the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission; strategic highway improvements; infrastructure development in the Ring of Fire; and other projects to be identified through the Building Canada Plan negotiations with the federal government.

The Ring of Fire

The Province’s Ring of Fire area, located about 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, is rich with chromite, nickel, gold and other deposits. This region has the potential to create business and growth opportunities for mining and supporting industries in northern Ontario.

Ontario is playing a leadership role in the development of the Ring of Fire, committing up to $1 billion for strategic transportation infrastructure development in the region.

In addition, given the fundamental role infrastructure plays in Canada’s economic growth, the Province is calling on the federal government to match Ontario’s investments in the Ring of Fire region, and significantly increase its investments in public infrastructure.

See Chapter IV: National Leadership: Strong Ontario, Strong Canada for more details.

Improving Public Transit

The Moving Ontario Forward initiative builds on the significant investments that the Province is already making in public transit to support economic growth and improve the quality of life for people across the province.

Ontarians are already beginning to see the results of these significant investments. For example:

  • GO Transit now has 250,000 boardings — 197,000 on the train system and 53,000 on the bus system — on a typical weekday, and recently added the 500th bus to its fleet.
  • Construction has begun on the Waterloo Rapid Transit project. This 36-kilometre corridor will link Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, and connect commuters to GO Train service between the Region of Waterloo and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
  • New accessible Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) streetcars are rolling into service in Toronto. By 2019, over 200 new streetcars will be brought in to replace the TTC’s current fleet, making them the first new generation of streetcars in Toronto in 30 years. PRESTO fare card readers will also be installed on the new streetcars starting this fall, with PRESTO operating on all streetcar lines once the new fleet is in full service. This will allow commuters to travel seamlessly and more conveniently on the TTC and across the GTHA.
  • The TTC opened a second subway platform at Union Station in August, helping to reduce overcrowding and improve passenger circulation.

In addition, progress continues on the first wave of projects in Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan, the Big Move. Recent examples include the following:

  • In Markham, a new segment of bus rapid transit (rapidway) opened in August, extending Viva rapid transit service along Highway 7 from Highway 404 to South Town Centre Boulevard. With the opening of this segment, approximately 18 per cent of the vivaNext bus rapid transit project is in service.
  • The first Union Pearson Express trains have arrived in Toronto and are undergoing testing and commissioning. The Union Pearson Express remains on track to begin service in the spring of 2015, in time to serve as a critical transportation link for the Pan/Parapan American Games.
  • Construction of the tunnels for the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) continues to progress. As of October 30, 2014, tunnelling of about 3.4 kilometres was completed.

Expanding GO Transit

Ontario recently took a key step towards doubling train service between Kitchener and Toronto in 2016 by finalizing the purchase of a 53-kilometre rail corridor between Kitchener and Georgetown. Increasing Metrolinx’s ownership along the Kitchener rail corridor will allow GO Transit to improve service, control operations and make infrastructure upgrades needed to support service expansion.

Investing in Provincial Highways

Investments in the provincial highway network support the movement of goods to market and commuters between their homes and workplaces. Ontario is investing $2.5 billion in provincial highway and bridge projects this year.

Examples of highway expansion projects include:

  • Opening a 13-kilometre extension on Highway 404 from Green Lane to Ravenshoe Road that will make it faster to travel into and out of the GTA and take up to 22,000 vehicles a day off local roads;
  • Continuing to four-lane key highway corridors in northern Ontario, including widening Highway 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury, and Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon. A new four-lane stretch of Highway 11/17 between Highway 527 and McKenzie Road was opened to traffic this fall;
  • Widening a 12-kilometre stretch of Highway 410 from south of Highway 401 to Queen Street in Brampton, which includes building a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane in each direction. The contract has been awarded and construction is targeted for completion by the fall of 2018;
  • Widening and improving the Highway 417 corridor through Ottawa, including opening the Hunt Club Road extension and new interchange at Highway 417 in the summer of 2014; and
  • Widening Highway 7/8 from Fischer‐Hallman Road to Courtland Avenue in Kitchener, scheduled to be completed in 2016. Work completed to date includes the rehabilitation and widening of over- and under-passes and the installation of noise barrier walls.

Building Better Places to Learn

As of September 2014, full-day kindergarten was available to all four- and five-year-olds in Ontario. Since 2010, the government has provided $1.5 billion in capital funding to support the rollout of full-day kindergarten across the province. This funding supported the creation of close to 3,500 new kindergarten classrooms, through additions and major retrofits.

The government plans to provide funding of more than $11 billion over the next 10 years for elementary and secondary education infrastructure to continue building better places to learn and support consolidations of schools. Capital investments will help build new schools to address growth pressures in areas such as Milton, Brampton, Barrhaven and Ancaster. These infrastructure investments will align with demographic trends and help meet the needs of changing communities.

Increasing Access to Postsecondary Institutions

Ontario will continue to expand its postsecondary education infrastructure in areas where student demand is strong and where there are gaps in access.

The Province released its Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework in December 2013 to guide the development of new or expanded campuses in underserved areas. In March 2014, the Province issued a call for proposals to universities and colleges focused on future large-scale expansion of postsecondary education capacity in Ontario.

Proposals will be evaluated through the Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework, which highlights the need to ensure that decisions reflect provincial priorities, future demand needs and regional capacity gaps.

Investing in Modern Health Infrastructure

Building a sustainable public health care system supports Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care by ensuring that patients get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

Over the next 10 years, Ontario plans to invest over $11.4 billion in hospital capital grants to provide adequate infrastructure capacity in the health care sector. Across Ontario, more than 40 major hospital projects are under construction or in various stages of planning, including the recently announced plans to move forward with a new hospital in Markdale and the expansion and redevelopment of Cambridge Memorial Hospital. 

The Province will also provide an additional $300 million over the next 10 years to help shift care from hospital to community settings. This includes doubling its annual investment over the next three years for Community Health Centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres, and community-based mental health and addictions agencies. 

Innovative Approaches to Infrastructure Investment

Ontario is one of the leading jurisdictions for Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) projects. Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and its private-sector partners consistently deliver valuable public infrastructure assets on time and on budget.

The Ontario government, through IO, is delivering over 80 projects valued at about $35 billion in capital construction costs using the AFP model. These include completed projects and projects under construction, with over $3 billion in estimated value-for-money savings. A recent review of 37 projects that have reached substantial completion found that 36 were completed on or below budget and 27 were completed on, ahead of, or within one month of schedule.

Infrastructure Ontario is committed to applying lessons learned, developing best practices, and being open and transparent by providing information online and consulting with partners.

As part of its “Spring 2014 Market Update,” IO identified a series of upcoming projects, estimated project sizes and procurement timelines to allow firms to better organize their resources. Examples of AFP projects currently in procurement or underway include:

  • The Seneca College King Campus expansion project, which involves the design and construction of new academic and other facilities that will allow Seneca to increase the range of programs offered and provide space for an additional 1,450 students; and
  • McMaster Children’s Health Centre, which involves the construction of a new children’s treatment centre that will consolidate a number of services under one roof and improve access for children and families.

In 2013–14, seven AFP projects reached substantial completion, including:

  • Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, a state-of-the-art mental health care facility in Penetanguishene that will offer a larger, more modern space for treatment and care of people with mental health disorders who have been involved with the criminal justice system; and
  • Elgin County Courthouse, which brings together existing court facilities within one location in St. Thomas, improving justice services for local residents.

The Province is also enhancing the AFP model to help improve the delivery of large and complex projects, particularly integrated transit systems with significant risk and scope. These enhancements are starting with the Eglinton Crosstown, Metrolinx’s largest transit project, now under procurement.

These enhancements will enable companies of various sizes to compete and participate while maintaining the commitment to on-time and on-budget delivery. In addition, bidders will incorporate community benefits such as job and supplier fairs into their bids. The procurement will also include a pilot initiative to increase the participation of registered apprentices.