Billions of dollars from the Liberal government’s infrastructure program likely won’t be spent until after Canadians go to the polls next year. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Federal budget details slower than expected trickle of infrastructure money

OTTAWA — New figures in this week’s federal budget suggest billions of dollars from the Liberal government’s vaunted infrastructure program now won’t be spent until after Canadians go to the polls next year.

The sluggish pace of federal infrastructure spending has been a persistent burr under the saddle of a government that rode to power on a promise to ramp up spending for roads, bridges, community centres, transit and water systems to stimulate the economy.

Tuesday’s budget showed more than $3.8 billion from Phase 1 of the plan — which was supposed to be spent by the end of the month — won’t be totally out the door until at least 2021.

The second phase of spending, which is still subject to negotiations with the provinces and territories, has also seen its funding moved around: the government now says more than $3 billion won’t be spent until at least 2025, with the majority of that spending to take place in 2028.

And that might not be the end of it, since the budget also warns that further adjustments may have to be made over time.

A spokesman for Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says the new numbers reflect when the government expects to receive expense claims from cities and provinces, a process that often creates a lag between when work takes place and when the federal money is spent.

In some cases, the government won’t receive receipts until after a project is completely finished. In other cases, projects are delayed because of labour strife, bad weather or other factors beyond Ottawa’s control.

Sohi spokesman Brook Simpson said the budget changes reflect that reality.

“It is not a reflection of project activity, which is well underway on the majority of the more than 4,000 projects Minister Sohi has approved, and which the Bank of Canada has noted are contributing to the country’s economic growth.”

The Liberals hope to sign funding agreements by the end of this month for $33 billion in upcoming infrastructure spending overseen by Sohi, and have also asked provinces to allocate unspent cash from a fund set up by the previous Conservative government.

The budget shows that just over $1 billion from Conservative funds is being delayed until after next year’s election, with a further $2.4 billion scheduled for beyond 2023.

Just Posted

Art Battle Red Deer to support Women of Excellence Awards

Art Battle Red Deer will be April 6 at the Radisson Hotel

Eliminating racial discrimination events in Red Deer this week

Two upcoming events aim to inspire change and eliminate racial discrimination in… Continue reading

Outfitter facing Wildlife Act charges

It is alleged archery-only hunting licences used out of season

Sunnybrook pies in demand

Just in time for Easter

Red Deer’s Chopped Canada winner takes break from restaurant business

Pete Sok closes Sophear, but plans to eventually relocate

WATCH: Red Deerians can have a say about crime fighting

Municipality will poll citizens about policing priorities

21-year-old charged with drug trafficking in Rocky Mountain House

RCMP seized drugs after conducting a traffic stop and charged a 21-year-old… Continue reading

Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms

OTTAWA — Gun retailers would be required to keep records of firearms… Continue reading

Alberta factoring in Trans Mountain pipeline in budget forecasts

EDMONTON — Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta will rely on anticipated… Continue reading

Pooches and pickup truck stolen in Edmonton found in Rimbey

Two old English bulldogs named Rocky and Jersey who were in a… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports wholesale sales up 0.1 per cent in January

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says wholesale sales rose 0.1 per cent to… Continue reading

Right whale deaths cost Gulf snow crab fishery its designation as sustainable

HALIFAX — An international organization has suspended a sustainability certificate for the… Continue reading

Financial watchdog says controls to mitigate sales risk at banks ‘insufficient’

TORONTO — Canada’s financial consumer watchdog says there are “insufficient” controls in… Continue reading

Sheriff official: 3 injured in Maryland high school shooting

GREAT MILLS, Md. — A shooting at a Maryland high school Tuesday… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month