News / Ottawa

Provinces miss deadlines to allocate first round of infrastructure cash

Minister says deadlines meant to be flexible for outlay for money meant to build transit, water projects.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

The Canadian Press

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi is downplaying deadlines his department set for provinces to allocate infrastructure money after many of them missed those targets.

The government’s first big infrastructure boost was announced in the 2016 budget at $3.4 billion and was just the beginning of over $180 billion the federal government has committed to building transit, social housing and other major projects.

The initial money was divided into transit projects, as well as water and wastewater projects. Provinces were given six months after they signed a deal with the federal government to identify which projects would get the money.

In a December briefing note Metro obtained, several provinces, including Ontario, Quebec, B.C., and Manitoba, had yet to allocate their funding despite the deadline being close.

Updated numbers the department provided from June, well after the deadline, show Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec still have money left to dole out, with Quebec having only allocated 17 per cent of its transit funding, despite a deadline of December 29, 2016.

Sohi said compared to the previous government, the Liberals are getting this money out the door much faster.

“We have done three times the projects in one year compared to what they did in four years combined,” he said.

In December, Quebec had actually allocated 76 per cent of its transit funding, but pulled back some projects and now has only identified where 17 per cent of the funding will go. Ontario’s public transit fund also slid backwards from 73 per cent allocated in December to 61 per cent in June.

Sohi said the government is flexible and will stay that way as the next, much larger, round of infrastructure projects rolls out.  

“We will design our process to be nimble enough and flexible enough that provinces and municipalities can have the longer term view on the projects they want to undertake.”

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