On top of government funding, Canada has a large pool of private capital from potential investors, including companies, pension funds and private investors.
Our largest players in telecom, transport, mining, oil and gas generate significant operating cash flows, which could potentially fund even bigger infrastructure programs than they undertake today. In addition, Canada’s pension funds include 6 of the top 20 largest pension fund infrastructure investors in the world. Their combined infrastructure investments exceeded $45 billion in 2016, and infrastructure investments by Canadian investors are growing at 20% or more annually.
However, many Canadian pension funds invest less than 15% of their infrastructure portfolio in Canada, a lower figure than in their other illiquid asset classes.
There are a variety of reasons for this. Some point to a lack of investible projects—those with user fees that could provide a return on investment. Others suggest that too many projects at the local level are too small to be attractive for big investment funds. And still others say that regulatory constraints and approval processes are too long and unpredictable. In some cases, large geographies or limited market sizes make it difficult to sustain a major infrastructure investment.
We need to reduce these inhibitors and enable more domestic investment in infrastructure.