April 4, 2020

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Trudeau's plan lauded and panned

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/8/2015 (1681 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A pledge by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to double federal infrastructure spending, but also run a deficit until 2019, has drawn congratulations and condemnations here in Manitoba.

While groups such as the Association of Manitoba Municipalities welcomed any announcement that brings sorely needed infrastructure funding to municipalities, the idea of any level of government continuing to run a deficit doesn't fly with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Elliot Sims, the CFIB's director of provincial affairs for Manitoba, said its members want a stable economy, and a deficit leads to higher debt levels, which can lead to tax increases.

"Manitobans know all too well that today's deficits turn to tomorrow's taxes," he said.

During a campaign stop in Oakville, Ont., Trudeau announced as a means to help stimulate the economy, a Liberal government will run short-term deficits until 2019. One of the pillars of this plan is $125 billion in infrastructure investment over the next decade -- up from the estimated $65 billion currently being spent by the Conservatives.

The AMM applauded the pledge, with the association's president, Chris Goertzen, calling it an "encouraging pledge to hear" from a federal party.

"That is what we need, that is what we want and what it means is dollars. And dollars can go a lot farther in our community if we have all levels of government working together," Goertzen said.

Trudeau also pledged to revamp the government's New Building Canada Fund, a 10-year fund announced by the feds last year, which pledged $14 billion to fund major infrastructure projects, through a one-third sharing agreement with the provincial and municipal governments.

The key aspect of this pledge will be increasing communication between the federal government and municipalities, explained Saint Boniface-Saint Vital Liberal candidate Dan Vandal.

Goertzen said he would like to see changes to how these funds are allocated to the communities by broadening the scope of what is considered "infrastructure funds" to include recreation and cultural infrastructure.

The Liberals say the new investments will be split evenly over the next 10 years between public-transit spending, social infrastructure and green infrastructure.

Coun. Janice Lukes, the chairwoman of Winnipeg's public works committee, said there are myriad ways the fund could be improved, noting it is "very political."

"I think cities all across Canada are challenged with funding our aging infrastructure," Lukes said Thursday.

As opposed to better communication, Lukes said she'd rather see a revamp of the model, noting the municipal government often ends up on the hook for more than one-third and always ends up covering the continuing maintenance costs.

 

-- with files from the Canadian Press

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

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