UBC Graduate Research

Formalizing a Federal Role for Canadian Transportation Investment: Toward Fiscal Policy that Links Transportation, Health, and the Environment Foxcroft, Holly


Canada is the only country, amongst 29 other member countries, in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development that does not have a permanent source of national funding and investment in transportation infrastructure projects. Canada is the only country in the G-7 (a group which comprises over 49% of the global financial market) that fails to invest in supportive transportation infrastructure over a long time horizon. If all of these countries have significantly invested in transportation infrastructure, why has Canada failed to do so? The Federal government has not historically played a role in financing urban transportation systems. This responsibility is jurisdictionally allotted to the provinces. There has been a commensurate decline in provincial funding of municipal transportation infrastructure and as the necessary funding has dwindled transit fares have increased and transit service hours have decreased (McCormick Rankin Corporation 2002). But, in the last few years there has been a shift in federal policy that has resulted in municipalities (via the provinces) receiving much needed funding for urban transportation infrastructure. Through a literature review, stakeholder, programmatic and case study analysis this report explores the challenges facing Canada’s urban transportation systems. Transportation related externalities are threatening to undermine the environment and the overall health of Canadians through urban sprawl, congestion, the acute and disbursed environmental effects of emissions. Stakeholders in the transportation system have made their desires for a national policy/strategy on transportation funding well known. The current federal transportation funding programs are disparate, do not provide enough long term funding, and are limited in scope. A comparative analysis of the US, UK, and Germany provides valuable insight into successes and failures of urban transportation funding.

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