Re: MP’s criticisms contradictory, March 1 letters.
I would like to correct some misinformation expressed by Surrey MPs in your publication.
First and foremost, the claim that 77 per cent of announced infrastructure projects, or 1,041 projects, have started construction is blatantly and indisputably false.
As the MPs mention, this information is verifiable on the government’s Open Government License portal: www.open.canada.ca
The downloadable spreadsheet clearly outlines that of the 1,357 projects approved between November 2015 and this month, only 72 have construction start dates. This represents just five per cent of the approved projects – not 77 per cent.
Just this past week, the Senate Committee on National Finance released a report analyzing the government’s infrastructure spending plan, and they include the most up-to-date numbers from the independent and non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). These numbers include not only Infrastructure Canada projects but also projects funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and others.
Of the 1,402 projects announced by all departments, only 308 have started construction, representing just 22 per cent. When you have the overwhelming majority of projects not under construction – regardless of how many departments you include – there is a serious shortfall when it comes to job creation and economic growth.
This is a big concern when you’re running deficits to the tune of $30 billion per year.
Furthermore, my call to flow the shortfall of $9 billion in infrastructure funding comes from promises made by Budget 2016, which the PBO confirmed is missing in his February 2017 report titled “Following the Money.” This concern is also echoed in last week’s report released by the Senate Committee on National Finance.
In addition, the Fraser Institute just released a report that examines whether the planned infrastructure investments will grow the economy as promised. With a title like “Myths of Infrastructure Spending in Canada,” one could expect the findings will echo those of the PBO and the Senate committee.
The fact is, many promises were made by the Liberal government when it comes to infrastructure, but few have been delivered upon. They have frozen nearly $1 billion in lapsed infrastructure funds that were intended to be spent this year, and have reprofiled them to next year.
The Liberal election platform promised that no funds would be allowed to lapse, and that any lapsed funding would automatically be transferred to communities via the Gas Tax Fund. However, only $20 million is being transferred. Ninety-five per cent – or 78 per cent if you include all departments – of projects are not under construction. The remaining monies that have been budgeted to be spent have been frozen or not committed to projects altogether.
The 2017 construction season is closing in, and these projects need to get underway. There are a series of problems, and it is alarming that the Liberals are focusing their efforts on trying to counter valid concerns with inaccurate and misleading facts rather than working hard to get the infrastructure built in our communities.
Talking points are great, but as the critic for Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs, I have been following the plan closely. I again call on the government to come up with a sound and transparent plan for infrastructure.
MP Dianne Watts, South Surrey-White Rock