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Michael Fenn

Mahmood Nanji

Jessica Rolfe

Andrew Sussman

Ivey Business School, Western University, Canada

Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management

January 2019

Canada’s vast geography and trade-dependent economy requires robust public and private infrastructure. Indeed, the state of Canada’s infrastructure is critical to the country’s economic competitiveness as it impacts productivity, investment attraction, growth, and quality of life.

Given the importance of infrastructure to economic competitiveness, how well is Canada performing? How does Canada compare to other leading nations? What roles are governments and the private sector playing in supporting economic infrastructure investment? How do technological innovation, climate change, and demographic changes affect infrastructure? What are the future opportunities, challenges, and risks involved in infrastructure?

The increased profile of the infrastructure gap and the need to stimulate the economy following the 2008 financial crisis have prompted governments to make record infrastructure spending  commitments. However, it is generally acknowledged that not all infrastructure investment results in long-term economic benefits.

The primary purpose of this paper is to examine the risks associated with the development of critical public and private infrastructure projectsin Canada. This paper has been intentionally framed to identify issues and pose questions rather than prescribe solutions or propose recommendations. Our hope is to present some options for consideration and engage business and government leaders in a discussion of these issues. To this end, the Lawrence Centre plans to organize an economic infrastructure forum in early 2019 and, following that event, to convert the discussion paper into a report with recommendations for decision-makers and opinion leaders.