Jim Metcalfe – Director of Immigration: The Government of Canada has acknowledged that Canada has an infrastructure funding problem. Our bridges are crumbling, major highways need expansion, commuter rail and subway systems need upgrading and a host of other expensive public works are underfunded.
The recent Canadian federal budget showed an expanding deficit which unfortunately will be need to be paid off for many years to come. Meanwhile, infrastructure improvements fall by the wayside.
Perhaps there are more innovative solutions which could result in a direct injection of capital for these projects.
Let’s take an example. The federal government of Canada is going to finance a new bridge between Canada and the United States of America to run from Windsor to Detroit. The existing Ambassador Bridge is privately owned, causes bottlenecks, and is showing its age. The government of Canada has slowly been clearing the legal hurdles to build the new bridge which will take many years to complete.
One question I constantly ask myself is why not use immigrant investor money to raise the capital needed to build the bridge? It would be simple to amend the old investor immigration program and seek investors who are prepared to invest anywhere from $2 to $5 million to finance the construction of the bridge. 200 investors per year at $5 million each would bring in $1 billion over the 5 to 7 year term that it would probably take to build the bridge
For the investor immigrant, processing could be done at a dedicated processing centre located in Canada. It could be staffed by auditors and accountants who would be charged with verifying that the money was legally accumulated. Applicants would be given a guarantee that their applications would be processed within one year. The cost of processing the applications would be borne by a processing fee commensurate with the cost of entering the program.
The plan is not far fetched. In fact, a version of it is going on in Quebec right now. Applicants could be given the opportunity, as they are in Quebec, to raise the required money on the open market or through approved lenders. Applicants would obviously be required to prepay the interest on the loan for the term of the loan.
Similar infrastructure projects could be funded in a similar way without limitation.
Canada has always been a safe place to invest money. In this case, Canada would benefit significantly by raising funds for infrastructure projects which would lead to long-term construction jobs and increased productivity.
It is time for the government of Canada to think big.