Canada: Report critical of Ottawa's infrastructure spending in the North - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaReport critical of Ottawa's infrastructure spending in the North

12:31  18 april  2019
12:31  18 april  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says the government must provide better information to Canada' s budget watchdog after a report from the Office of It was, in part, why the Liberals committed to deficit spending in the first two years and then doubled down by projecting a deficit for the upcoming fiscal

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Report critical of Ottawa's infrastructure spending in the North© Alex Brockman/CBC N.W.T., Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann says he's satisfied with the level of infrastructure spending from the federal government.

A report from the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer questions the value of a key federal government attempt to promote infrastructure spending in Canada, but some Northern politicians say the report doesn't tell the full story.

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The timing of spending is critical to federal economic projections and the ensuing effect on federal finances. Earlier this month, the parliamentary budget office said Ottawa ' s planned infrastructure investments did not materialize in the first half of the year and there's a growing risk the spending will

The report, released April 9, looked at the Investing in Canada Program. It's the Liberals $186-billion spending plan to improve Canada's roads, bridges and water systems over the next decade.

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Addressing critical infrastructure needs. Modern public infrastructure will contribute to a stronger economy, a cleaner environment, and safer and more "Our Government recognizes the importance of the North . Through Canada' s Economic Action Plan and our Northern Strategy, we have taken

The heightened focus on infrastructure spending announced in Tuesday's fiscal update comes at the expense of Ottawa ' s bottom line, as The Liberals are hoping that new projects will boost productivity and economic growth in the coming years, helping federal finances along the way through stronger

It suggests the program did not actually lead to an increase in infrastructure spending in Canada's North. Instead, after the program began both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut revised their budgets to spend less on infrastructure, the report states.

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Another reason cited in the report is that the spending estimates are presented in such a complicated way that Frechette' s office couldn't find the money. Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, centre, and Ottawa Mayor Jiim Watson, left, tour the site of a future light rail transit station in Ottawa last year.

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A parallel report for the program's effect on the provinces had similar findings.

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With Ottawa earmarking billion for infrastructure spending over the next decade, a coalition of “Often in our consultations we had people refer to the gazebos in the north ,” she said — a reference Future infrastructure should be “trade-enabling,” the report recommends, highlighting the fact that

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Using projections, the report suggests that while collective capital spending between the three territories did increase in that time, capital spending was $111 million lower in 2016-17 and 2017-18 than it would have been without the program.

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In the week when George Osborne claimed he was championing investment in the north , analysis of spending shows that London’ s population receive far more than anybody else.

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The territorial governments did contribute to joint projects with the federal government — but that "at the same time as they were matching the federal funding they also reduced other spending," explained Yves Giroux, the parliamentary budget officer.

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If the federal government's goal was getting territories to spend more on infrastructure, he said, there should have been more stringent conditionsand benchmarks for territorial governments around their capital spending.

"The stimulative impact should have been better included in the agreements," he said, adding the federal Infrastructure Department "did not measure the impact pre- and post-Investing in Canada plan ... that's one of the main drawbacks of the program as it is structured."

PBO report 'accounting exercise' says infrastructure minister

Infrastructure Canada did not respond to an email asking if it had changed its practices accordingly.

Instead, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne responded by email, saying the budget office report is an "accounting exercise" that "lags the progress of actual construction activity, often by years, until receipts are paid."

Some Northern politicians say the report doesn't tell the whole story of infrastructure spending in the North.

Larry Bagnell, the Liberal MP for the Yukon, says if his territory is spending less in recent years it could be because it's taking more time to partner with Indigenous governments.

"We want everyone to benefit, First Nations and everyone else," he said. "It takes longer to start out those types of agreements."

Contacted on April 11, Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut's government and community services minister, said he was unavailable for an interview that week due to travel. He has yet to respond to another interview request.

Report critical of Ottawa's infrastructure spending in the North© Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada

N.W.T. Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann said he too doesn't believe the report accurately reflects infrastructure spending in the territory.

Schumann says the federal government has been getting money through other programs where Ottawa and the N.W.T. both spend money on projects.

MLA Kieron Testart, who represents the Yellowknife riding of Kam Lake says there could be other reasons for the spending revisions.

In 2018, the N.W.T. government received fewer corporate and personal taxes than it had budgeted for. The territorial government has a self-imposed fiscal responsibility policy that prevents it from taking on certain investments without a cash surplus, he said.

"We've had less revenues to invest in infrastructure — we've had to rebalance our spending priorities," he said.

Rising water could cut off Ottawa water purification plant.
City officials say access to a major water treatment plant in west Ottawa is at risk from the rising Ottawa River, and the military is helping protect it.

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