The Canada Infrastructure Bank and corporate profit
If you have taken time to read Alistair McGregor’s (MP) summer update you will have read that the Liberal government had included in its Budget 2017 plans to create an infrastructure bank known as Canada Infrastructure Bank or CIB. As part of an omnibus budget bill, it received little, if any, debate in the passage through the House of Commons. This fast tracking of such an important issue through the Commons is to me a red flag.
The CIB is not really a bank. You will not be able to deposit money in it. The government is calling it a bank because it can.
The Canada’s Bank Act says businesses can’t use the word “bank” in their names unless they’re licensed by the federal government or have special permission from both Canada’s banking regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, and the Minister of Finance. There is one exception. The government can set up a Crown corporation and call it a bank. It has done that. It has set up a Crown corporation and called it Canada Infrastructure Bank.
The purpose of this bank is to let, or entice, private corporations/institutions to invest in public infrastructure. Of course these investors will need to make a profit. Corporations don’t invest money for the goodness of their heart. These infrastructures, our sewers, roads, and utilities, must be revenue generating. To make this revenue, they will have to charge fees on services or tolls on roads.
Is this the Canada we want where almost every square inch is at least partly owned by a corporation?
We already do pay for these services through our taxes. I thought that was what taxes were for! We do pay in addition usage fees for water and sewer and electricity — but only to cover costs, not to generate revenue for private investors.
Alberta has privatized power lines on which they guaranteed the purchaser 12 per cent profit. My family in Alberta pays extra fees in addition to kwh charges — a distribution fee, a delivery fee, administration fee — which can be as much as the charges for electricity.
In addition to fees, will there be cutbacks in trained workers or deterioration of services as has happened in many P3s (public-private partnerships)? This infrastructure sounds very much like an expanded P3 with many partners instead of just one.
Joyce Nelson, an award winning writer, will be in Duncan Sept 26, as a part of a seven city book tour on the Pacific coast. She will be speaking about her book Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism (2016). She examines the role of corporations and private banks working together to continue the privatization of public infrastructure and services.
This is an opportunity for us to understand this before it’s finalized.
There are many questions we should ask and get answers to. We are the ones who will generate the revenue.