Local contractors have a beef with the federal government and it is a legitimate one.
It’s all about the New Build Canada Fund and the infrastructure dollars that go with it.
There has been much written about the delays in getting the federal money flowing to the municipalities so they can undertake much needed projects, such as water and sewer systems, road and bridge reconstruction and other such projects.
Although that is a major concern for those directly affected by the funding delays another major issue for these companies is the way the funding program is constructed.
The New Build Canada Fund (NBCF) is one component within the overall $53 billion New Build Canada Plan (NBCP). It is a $14-billion fund that will support projects of national, regional and local significance that promote economic growth, job creation and productivity.
Two local developers, along with Malpeque Liberal MP Wayne Easter, say the funding is back loaded – meaning, a significant portion of the $14 billion New Build Canada Fund won’t be seen by any municipalities until 2019.
Between now and 2016, about $250 million will be made available.
Easter calls this “a pittance” and he’s right. After 2016, the dollars begin to increase gradually, reaching $2 billion in 2019.
Meanwhile, municipalities are left scrambling to identify projects, get them approved and underway in a very short construction season.
The federal funds were supposed to be ready to flow to the provinces by March 31. It is now the end of the second week of June, the construction season is well underway, and not a dime has come to Prince Edward Island through the program.
Ottawa says it’s P.E.I.’s fault for not getting projects prioritized with the municipalities.
Skeptics might say there’s a federal election next year and the Tories may use it as an election tool.
Regardless, economies are being affected and jobs lost.
Summerside deputy mayor Bruce MacDougall said we are in jeopardy of losing the construction season, adding, there are projects out there that everybody wants to apply for. “There’s job creation that goes along with it that really we need, especially in our part of the country.”
Robert Duffy, owner of Duffy Construction in Kinkora, said the area is losing workers to the West everyday. “We don’t need any other reasons for them not to stay here.”
Rick Kennedy, owner of Curran and Briggs in Summerside, said “It’s something they can talk about but it’s really not benefiting anybody just yet.”
Skeptics might say the Tories will use this as an election in the 2015 federal election.
Let’s hope not. Let’s see them free up these dollars so that much needed projects can be completed and jobs created for Islanders and Canadians.