Build Canada Fund delays putting jobs in jeopardy

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New Build Canada fund

Federation of Canadian Municipalities calls on Ottawa to move on the plan

SUMMERSIDE – Construction projects and the jobs that go with them are in jeopardy because of delays in acting on the New Build Canada Fund, says the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The New Build Canada Fund is a $14-billion fund to support projects of national, regional and local significance that promotes economic growth, job creation and productivity. But it hasn't been rolled out to the provinces yet.   “This thing was supposed to be ready for March 31 and here it is June 1 and nothing is ready and nothing in sight, as far as we’re concerned," said Bruce MacDougall, president of the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities.

With the construction season underway and no federal funding agreement in place, municipalities across Canada are concerned needed projects will not be completed.

The FCM addressed this issue at its annual meeting over the weekend in Niagara Falls, Ont. and passed a resolution calling on the federal government to get the funding on track so projects can be undertaken.

“The Build Canada Fund was the major topic of conversation,” said MacDougall. “There’s just no movement on it. FCM has been at the table helping to design the plan right from the start but this time we were not given any opportunity to take part in the plan. They basically told us here it is.”

MacDougall said the FCM did pass a resolution at the annual meeting calling on the federal government to move along the process as soon as possible.

“Right across the country we’ve been talking to lots of communities and there’s nothing being done,” he said.

Rob Philpott, director of finance for the City of Summerside doesn’t see the delay affecting projects underway in Summerside.

“We’re in the process of developing a long-term capital improvement plan which is going to identify our immediate capital priorities for the upcoming year as well as the next 10 years,” Philpott said. “Part of that will involve a prioritized listing of what we see as the main priorities from the city’s perspective and we’re expecting to roll that out by the end of the summer.”

He said with this, the public can really see what the main priorities are in terms of roads, water and sewer and other projects.

MacDougall said Ottawa hasn’t given any reason as to why the funding is delayed.

 “If you talk to them you think everything is fine but it’s not,” he said. “We’re in jeopardy of losing the construction season. There are projects out there that everybody wants to apply for. There’s job creation that goes along with it that really we need, especially in our part of the country.”

The criteria for funding, which projects are eligible and which are not, remains unclear.

“Hopefully in the next couple of weeks they can get something together,” MacDougall said. “The clock is ticking and we don’t have a long construction season. Every day is a loss.”

Philpott said at this point, the city does not have a specific project specifically earmarked for the New Build Canada Fund. He said, once project details become known, the city could adapt certain existing projects to receive funding under the fund.

MacDougall said the federal government needs to make the rules clear.

“You can apply but what are you applying for?” 

Organizations: Canada Fund, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities

Geographic location: Summerside, Ottawa, Canada Niagara Falls

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