Canada: Quintessentially innovative

As a resource-rich country, Canada’s economy has certainly felt the pinch inflicted by the falling price of oil. Alberta for example, has seen its budget decline by C$7 billion (€5.0 billion; $5.9 billion) according to reports. While that may not come as a surprise, the fact that some non-energy related projects had to be put temporarily on hold was more unexpected.

Canada is characterised by its rich resources, but also by its mature and sophisticated P3 market. As a result, it continues to provide a strong and steady flow of deals across all infrastructure sub-sectors. Examples include the new C$325 million patient care tower at Penticton Regional Hospital; a new campus for the Emily Carr University of Art + Design; and the ‘Namgis First Nation hydropower project.

Perhaps even more noteworthy than a steady project pipeline is the Canadian market’s ability to continuously innovate.

In January, La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (La Caisse), one of the largest institutional fund managers in Canada and North America, announced an agreement it had reached with Quebec’s government.

Under the terms of the agreement, which is pending National Assembly approval, the government will identify projects that may be of interest to La Caisse. Once La Caisse confirms interest, it will coordinate calls for tender while an independent auditor will ensure the tendering process is fair and transparent.

The government, however, will still have the final say on whether a project moves forward and will retain control of the infrastructure asset.

A new public transit system on Montréal’s new Champlain Bridge and a public transit system linking downtown Montréal to the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport are the first two projects La Caisse would take on if the agreement is approved.

“We’re using [pensioners’] savings to provide them with projects from which they will benefit day-to-day but that will also remunerate their pensions in the long term,” La Caisse’s senior vice president, private equity and infrastructure, Macky Tall said in an earlier interview, referring to the 3 million Quebecers La Caisse serves on behalf of its 32 clients.