The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) recently underwent its mandatory five-year review. As part of the review process, CUPE made a submission with recommendations on how to make the CIB a truly public bank.
CUPE called on the federal government to make four big changes to the bank.
- Change the bank’s focus from getting private investments to providing low-cost loans to cities and communities.
- Open up information at the bank for public review, and add more diverse voices to its board of directors.
- Address climate change by providing funding to sustainable projects only.
- Speed up the bank’s work by focusing on low-cost financing for municipalities and Indigenous communities.
The review does not directly address any of our recommendations. It also ignores that the bank has failed on many of its goals. The bank’s original target was to attract “up to $5 of private investment for every public dollar.” But, in fact, the bank has attracted less than $1 of private investment for each public dollar. This confirms what CUPE knows to be true. Private investors are not interested in putting money into projects unless they know they will make a profit.
CUPE is concerned that the review shows the bank’s interest in “revenue generating projects.” Infrastructure projects, like bridges, roads, water treatment and waste water treatment plants, rarely create revenue and should never be asked to turn a profit. Funding infrastructure projects without expecting to make a profit is exactly what a public infrastructure bank should do.
CUPE will continue to monitor the Canada Infrastructure Bank. And we will keep asking for the bank to focus on what is truly important – being a transparent, accountable, public bank that serves the interest of people in Canada and improves the infrastructure of our communities.