Use billions of {dollars} in infrastructure funding or lose it, Ottawa warns hesitant provinces

In the funds, the federal authorities warned that ‘as a measure of fiscal prudence, any uncommitted funds after (March 31, 2023) shall be reallocated to different priorities’

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OTTAWA – The Liberal authorities is giving premiers a use it or lose it model ultimatum for billions in infrastructure cash, pushing provinces to resolve no less than the place and the way they’ll spend $7.3 billion in federal money.

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Last week’s funds included a brand new provision for infrastructure {dollars} that have been first introduced in 2018. The authorities needs provinces to finalize plans on how they’ll spend the cash by March 31, 2023.

In the funds, the federal government warned that “as a measure of fiscal prudence, any uncommitted funds after this date will be reallocated to other priorities.”

Jean-Sébastien Comeau, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc, mentioned they needed provinces to finalize their plans.

“Federal funding cannot be unlocked unless provincial and territorial governments identify priority projects and agree to share the costs with the federal government,” he mentioned. “While several provinces and territories have successfully allocated the vast majority of their funding envelopes, a number of them have yet to allocate over 50 per cent of the federal funding earmarked for their jurisdiction.”

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The offers with the provinces over infrastructure cash commits provincial governments to pay anyplace from a 3rd to half of the price of tasks funded with the federal {dollars}. The new timeline solely requires them to resolve the place the {dollars} are going, giving them as much as 2033 to really construct new tasks.

There is a wide range between provinces on how a lot of their federal funding they’ve dedicated. Manitoba has plans in place for all however one per cent of the cash, whereas Newfoundland has not outlined plans for 59 per cent of the money.

In greenback figures, Quebec has essentially the most cash nonetheless to commit with $3.3 billion not but allotted, British Columbia has $1.3 billion and Ontario has simply over $1 billion.

New Brunswick has 58 per cent of its cash unallocated, roughly $400 million. The province’s Premier Blaine Higgs mentioned they’re not involved concerning the new deadline. He mentioned the federal authorities has additionally provided extra flexibility in how the cash will get spent.

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“I am very encouraged by this change and I just think it’s the right thing to do. It means we can do more with the money we have,” he mentioned.

He mentioned the province seen this as ten-year plan and has been transferring at that tempo.

“The deal was done in 2018 for 10 years and here we are at the midpoint, roughly. And we were at midpoint in spending.”

The authentic infrastructure deal had the federal cash damaged into completely different streams, with a few of it designated for public transit, some for tradition and recreation tasks, some for inexperienced tasks and a few for rural tasks.
Higgs mentioned the modifications within the funds additionally give them extra flexibility to maneuver cash between streams and that can assist his province.

“It didn’t apply to New Brunswick as it would apply to the City of Toronto, and having a massive subway system, so that becomes the situation that allows us more flexibility,” he mentioned.

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Most of the infrastructure {dollars} movement by to municipal tasks. Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Joanne Vanderheyden mentioned communities have the tasks.

“Municipalities remain committed to turning federal infrastructure investment into projects that benefit Canadians as quickly as possible. Municipalities have local projects that are shovel ready and shovel worthy – in particular water and wastewater infrastructure and community, culture and recreation facilities,” she mentioned.

Vanderheyden, who can also be mayor of Strathroy-Caradoc, a neighborhood in southwestern Ontario, mentioned they’re able to work with provinces to maneuver onward.

“We look forward to working with our provincial/territorial and federal counterparts to advance those projects.”

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