Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Editor: We have read with particular interest the article about federal infrastructure funding published on Monday, April 7, and would like to address the questions it raises.
A key fact is that our government’s infrastructure plan, the New Building Canada Plan, is the longest and largest such plan in Canada’s history. Over the next 10 years, $53 billion will flow from the federal government in order to address infrastructure priorities across the country. It includes at least $440 million for Prince Edward Island.
The new plan, which launched earlier than expected, is now open for business. Relevant information for all components is available on Infrastructure Canada’s website. Provinces and municipalities can now submit their projects for funding.
It remains possible to “stack” money from the Gas Tax Fund — the largest part of the New Building Canada Plan — in order to fund infrastructure projects. However, the New Building Canada Fund generally caps federal funding for municipal projects at one-third of the cost. There are three levels of governments, and it is important that all of them do their fair share. The cap is 50 per cent for certain projects, such as transit.
It is also important to understand that a municipality can elect to simply pay for 100 per cent of a project through the federal Gas Tax Fund. In addition, as of this year, communities will be able to use the Gas Tax Fund for a wider range of projects, including roads, disaster mitigation, recreation, culture, tourism and sport.
As Minister Vessey noted, discussions are underway regarding the renewal of the Gas Tax Fund agreement. The province was sent a draft agreement on November 5, 2013. Our Conservative government has made this fund permanent, indexed it and doubled it. We look forward to signing this new agreement with the province soon, so that municipalities on P.E.I. can continue to receive significant federal funding for their infrastructure priorities.
The allegations that the money is set to flow near the end of the program are unfounded. In reality, billions of dollars from the last infrastructure plan will continue to flow until 2018.
Regarding the money contained in the new plan, we will continue to pay once the receipts are sent to us, like we have always done.
In short, our government has invested more in infrastructure than any other government in Canada’s history. On P.E.I., major projects have been supported: the P.E.I. Convention Centre, the Summerside wind farm, the Charlottetown well field and the Charlottetown perimeter highway, to name only a few.
We are proud of these achievements and we will maintain record levels of infrastructure funding for provinces and municipalities.
Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs
Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Regional Minister for Prince Edward Island