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The Hon. Pana  Merchant, B.A. Appointed to the Senate by the Rt. Honourable Jean Chrétien, Senator Pana Merchant represents the province of Saskatchewan and the Senatorial Division of Saskatchewan. She has served in the Senate of Canada since December 12, 2002.

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Senator Eggleton Raises Concern for Infrastructure Deficit in Cities

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Statement made on 05 December 2007 by Senator Art Eggleton

Hon. Art Eggleton:

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about a growing problem in Canada, a problem that, if not dealt with, will cripple our ability to compete in the world economy.

I am speaking about the increasing infrastructure deficit that is found in Canadian cities and communities.

A recent report published by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities pegged the deficit at over $123 billion. Honourable senators, this deficit affects Canadians in every city and every community across this country. It is reflected in the roads we drive on, the pipes that deliver water to our homes, the public transportation that we use and it is the places where our kids play.

Currently, an estimated 28 per cent of our infrastructure is more than 80 years old and, shockingly, 79 per cent of the life expectancy of Canada's infrastructure has been used up.

The $123 billion figure can be broken down into such areas as water and waste water systems, $31 billion; transportation, $21.7 billion; waste management, $7.7 billion; and community, recreational, cultural and social infrastructure, $40.2 billion. Furthermore, this number does not even include what is needed in new infrastructure investment.

Honourable colleagues, more worrisome than the numbers was the reaction of the Harper government. Instead of reacting by saying they want to help, the federal Minister of Finance called mayors and local politicians "whiners."

Honourable senators, that is not leadership and this does not help to solve the problems that plague our cities and communities. With record surpluses at the federal level, it is time that the government invests and helps our cities and communities.

Problems may be found at the local level, but they are not owned by the cities and communities. These are problems that are owned by all Canadians and need to be solved by all Canadians. We in all orders of government need to work together to address the infrastructure situation.

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