Feds pledge $2.2 billion to municipalities for infrastructure

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Proposed legislation introduced by the federal government includes more than $7 billion for health care, COVID vaccines and infrastructure projects.

Municipalities and First Nations communities would share $2.2 billion for short-term infrastructure priorities with money from the federal Gas Tax Fund—which the government proposes to re-name as the Canada Community-Building Fund.

“COVID-19 has placed extreme pressure on health care systems across the country,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a press conference.

“This money will ensure that our health system will not buckle under the continued strain of the pandemic, under the pressures of the third wave and new variants.”

The proposed funding also includes a one-time top up of $4 billion to the Canada Health Transfer for provinces and territories to address immediate healthcare system pressures.

If approved by Parliament, additional spending would double the federal government’s regular funding for municipalities, with cash for communities of all sizes to help reduce the risk of infrastructure projects being delayed or cancelled.

“As we rebuild from the greatest public health and economic crisis of our time, I understand the vital role that immediate investments in infrastructure will play in addressing the needs of municipalities and Indigenous communities, reviving local economies and improving the lives of Canadians,” said Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna.

In a statement last week, the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) applauded the funding announcement.

“It is critical that the proposed funding be swiftly approved by Parliament to prevent municipalities across Ontario from being forced to use money from their capital budgets to pay for higher operating expenses caused by the pandemic,” said Executive Director Nadia Todorova.

The alliance says it anticipates funding commitments from the federal government when the Liberals present a budget April 19.

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