Caisse posts 5 per cent return says Quebec light rail bill must be passed ASAP

MONTREAL — The Quebec government must act quickly and pass a bill allowing construction to begin on the fourth largest automated transportation system in the world, the head of the province’s pension fund said Friday.

Fund President and CEO Michael Sabia said if construction on Montreal’s light rail system is to begin as scheduled in the fall, legislators have to adopt Bill 137 as soon as possible.

“I can’t insist more strongly about the importance of Bill 137,” he said on a conference call after the fund released its results.

“It’s not just an option to pass the law quickly, it’s absolutely essential.”

The pension fund, called La Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, partnered with the Quebec government to launch the $6-billion project.

If completed, it will be the fourth largest automated transportation system in the world after the projects in Singapore, Dubai and Vancouver.

The fund is contributing $2.67 billion, Quebec has promised $1.28 billion and the federal government confirmed in June it would contribute another $1.28 billion.

Macky Tall, head of the fund’s infrastructure arm, said work is scheduled to begin in the fall, and therefore the Quebec government needs to pass Bill 137 quickly.

Quebec’s legislature returns from summer recess Sept. 19.

During the first six months of 2017, the fund posted a 5 per cent return, compared to 4.8 per cent for its benchmark portfolio.

Over five years, the fund recorded a 10.6 per cent annualized return, which was more than its benchmark portfolio of 9.3 per cent.

As of June 30, it held $286.5 billion in net assets, an increase of $15.8 billion compared to Dec. 31, 2016.

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