Question Period: Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Project

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Majors Hill Park, Ottawa

Hon. Marty Klyne: Minister, my question is on the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation Projects. As you will know, in 2020, the Province of Saskatchewan announced a $4 billion irrigation investment project at Lake Diefenbaker. Once completed, this project will irrigate up to 500,000 acres of land, which will double the amount of irrigable land in the province. Construction of the Gardiner Dam began in the late 1950s when John Diefenbaker was the Prime Minister. Sixty years later, we still do not have the required water security for the Prairie provinces, and Canada is denied the significant benefits of this project, including positive climate change impact, opportunities to manage flooding and droughts on the Prairies and a just transition to bolster labour and prosperity.

For the sake of bolstering Canada’s food security and economic stability, is the Government of Canada considering partnering with the Province of Saskatchewan to help make this a reality?

Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, P.C., M.P., Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food: Thank you for the question. This is definitely a significant infrastructure project in a critical sector — water. As you know, the Department of Agriculture, at the federal level, is involved in international trade, science and innovation and supporting our farmers. And through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, we have other responsibilities, of course.

When it comes to infrastructure, it falls either under the jurisdiction of my colleague the Minister of Infrastructure or potentially also the Minister of Industry, who is responsible for the Canada Infrastructure Bank. As far as I know, the Infrastructure Bank is following this project and looking at it very carefully because it is one of the five strategic areas of the bank, with $1.5 billion available to invest in irrigation projects.

This is definitely a project of interest that we want to follow. Through which channel, I cannot be more specific, unfortunately. It is not under the agriculture department, but there are potentially other opportunities. However, there is definitely the Infrastructure Bank.

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