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

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in Langley classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Everett pulls ahead in Western Conference standings over Vancouver Giants

Langley-based hockey G-Men, who lost 6-5 to Everett Saturday, now prepares to take on Victoria.

Langley Thunder lacrosse teams pocket gold and silver in Richmond

Top finishes for U15 and U13-1 teams at Richmond Romp over the Remembrance Day weekend

Langley Rams downed by Saskatoon Hilltops at Canadian Bowl

Four-time Canadian Junior Football League champions built up an insurmountable lead

VIDEO: Crash on 88 Avenue in Langley

At least one car suffered extensive damage

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

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

Vancouver Police look for man in connection to ‘sexually motivated’ assault

Woman says man followed her into an apartment building

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Most Read