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. Finance minister Bill Morneau spoke to media following a breakfast event co-hosted by the Canadian Club and the Empire Club in Toronto, on Thursday, March 1, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Federal budget details slower than expected trickle of infrastructure money

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

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.

Related: Federal budget fosters pharmacare, pot-based drugs

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.

Related: Federal budget to focus on gender equality

“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.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Habitat for Humanity development in Nanaimo moving to open house stage

Development planned for Albert and Pine streets

Park bylaw for former water district land fails

Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay’s opposing vote delays dedication of parkland

Dover Bay ranks highest in Nanaimo school district in Fraser Institute report

The Fraser Institute releases annual report card on secondary schools

More than 150 tremors hit Vancouver Island in last 24 hours

Seismologists monitor to see if pressure will be added to major fault

UPDATE: Oceanside RCMP say teen has been located

Police asked for public assistance last week while looking for Isaiah Taylor

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Grad will embrace, at a run, what’s next

Barsby’s Hope Stewart has learned lessons on the track that will keep serving her well

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Student helps to tell his grad class’ stories

Jay Panchal of Dover Bay Secondary School comfortable with all different platforms

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Rounds of applause await as grad goes to next level

Island ConnectEd graduate Ella Olesen compelled to seek spotlight and results

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Well-organized grad sets example for fellow students

Nanaimo Christian School graduate Maria Clemotte lends expertise

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Student finds balance between local and global thinking

Colton Van Der Minne of NDSS already learning at next level

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Grad year has ended up being an ultimate adventure

Aspengrove School’s Lesley Hill has been a representative for her school internationally

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Student is definitely graduating in style

Wellington Secondary grad Hailey Urbanoski happy to help others with her design sense

BEST & BRIGHTEST: Graduate guiding others, too, as she finds her own path

Cedar Secondary grad student Jenna McColman already a mentor

Most Read