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

Reel Reviews: Evil bloodlines and jewelry heists

We say, “Hereditary is refreshingly scary, Ocean’s 8 is familiarly okay.

Evening at Vernon Caetani Centre celebrates music and literature

Tom Wayman, John Lent and Mark Nishihara in Ballads, Bob Dylan and Beyond: The Music of Literature

L.A. photographer explores past in Vernon exhibition

Caroline Clerc’s three day exhibition runs June 26-29, with talk on June 26

Songs a fundraiser for Vernon Anglican church

Songs to Light the Way is a concert being planned as a… Continue reading

Cowboy entertainment returns to O’Keefe Ranch

Cowboy Dinner Show back every Friday in July and August

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Fathers’ Day in the sun

Discovery House event draws a crowd to Penticton’s Skaha Lake Park

Book Talk: Okanagan beach reads

A cool, shady spot on the beach is a fine place to lose yourself in a book

Music in the Park returns to Armstrong

Junk Yard Dawgs to play Valley First Music in the Park June 29

Vernon music students showcase talent

Vernon Community Music School annual recital saw 21 students perform

Penticton Pistoleras seize second undefeated season

Penticton’s Pistoleras roller derby team wrapped up the season undefeated, thanks to… Continue reading

Little ballerinas showcase work in Vernon

Okanagan School of Ballet recital June 23

BC Lions defensive back Marcell Young levels streaker in home opener

Young hit the fan near one of the 45-yard lines

Former Penticton Vee recovering in hospital

Pittsburgh Penguin prospect expected to make full recovery

Most Read