Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Remains All in on Using Infrastructure Spending to Jump-Start Economy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Trudeau Remains All in on Using Infrastructure Spending to Jump-Start Economy

Article excerpt

Infrastructure spending Canada's cure-all?

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SAINT ANDREWS, N.B. - Even with the Canadian dollar and energy prices at rock-bottom levels, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains convinced that his long-promised, big-budget infrastructure investment will be the answer to all short- and long-term ills.

The original Liberal plan was to divide $60 billion between public transit, green projects, and social infrastructure like affordable housing over 10 years, with just $17.4 billion earmarked to flow during the party's first mandate.

On Monday, however, Trudeau signalled that he is willing to bend the boundaries of that plan.

"We've always said we're always open to a certain degree of flexibility in order to make these things happen," Trudeau said in Saint Andrews by-the-Sea, N.B., after several hours of meeting with his cabinet.

A new report released Monday by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said investment is needed now to prevent "a rapid decline" in the condition of much of the country's infrastructure, which is overseen by local governments.

The annual report on the state of Canada's municipal infrastructure showed cities weren't spending enough on upkeep, and that were that trend to continue, maintenance costs alone would continue to increase.

Liberal ministers meeting with provincial and municipal counterparts have been warned of a capacity gap that could mean cities and provinces don't have enough money to cover their portion of construction costs.

Not only could the traditional funding model for such projects change, but so too could how much will be made available to projects in the three areas the Liberals want to fund.

Ahead of the morning meeting, part of a three-day cabinet retreat and strategy session in New Brunswick, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the government is also looking at the shared funding formula to see if provinces would also end up paying less, which would leave the federal government on the hook to pay more. …

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