Federal infrastructure: billions are sleeping in the coffers of Ottawa

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
Ottawa wished to devote these billions on public transport projects, or water networks.

Approximately $ 2.14 billion of dollars have slept last year in the coffers of the federal government, while they wanted to support the canadian economy through major infrastructure projects, as expected by the liberal government.

 

Documents reveal that the department of Infrastructure and Communities has spent only about 60% of its budget of $ 5.3 billion planned by the liberals for the fiscal year ended march 31.

 

The greatest part of this difference is due to the billion and a half which was not spent in large infrastructure projects, about 90 % of what the liberal government wanted to devote to public transport projects, or water networks — two key areas of its program.

 

The documents do not allow to infer when these amounts will ultimately be spent.

 

Ultimatum for Ottawa

 

These figures, however, measure the magnitude of the problem, which slows down the momentum of the liberals in their ambitious infrastructure programme of several billion dollars to support the canadian economy. The liberals would have liked to “roll the economy” more quickly.

 

The subsidies from Ottawa are allocated to provinces and municipalities for the receipt of invoices, which creates delays between the execution of the work and the federal payment. In some cases, invoices are sent only after the end of the work ; in other cases, the works are delayed by weather or a labor dispute, for example.

 

In the “report on the departmental outcomes,” which was released last week, stated that the government had transferred a sum of 591,8 million to the program “regional and national Projects” to the program intended rather for smaller communities, which will now be allocated a budget of $ 1.5 billion.

 

The report notes that Ottawa has served an ultimatum to the provinces : if they do not announce by 31 march 2018, their project for the monies remaining in the Fund in small communities, created in 2014 by the conservative government, these sums will be distributed to municipalities via Funds from the gasoline tax.

 

This fund was established by the liberal government in 2005 in order to provide municipalities with a source of stable and predictable two times a year, for their infrastructure projects.

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