OTTAWA - Despite a report calling for increased and long-term urban infrastructure funding in the next federal budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Canada's economic health will determine if that is possible.
Released by the Canada West Foundation (CWF) along with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Municipalities (FCM), the report states the rapid growth in Western Canada is straining municipal infrastructure and that will be a barrier to greater economic activity if it goes unaddressed by the feds.
"This is not about public spending, but critical public investments," report author and senior policy analyst at CWF Casey Vander Ploeg said. "If done well, it's what will lead to long-term economic growth."
But while the report emphasizes these investments are needed before economic growth is achieved, Flaherty seems to believe infrastructure funding can only come after economic gains have been made.
The feds have committed to having new infrastructure programs in place prior to the 2014 construction season. But the FCM says those programs need to be part of the 2013 budget if they are to be realized.
The FCM is asking for an increase from $3.25 billion a year to $5.75 billion for a 20-year period.
Speaking to the Economic Club of Canada, Flaherty mentioned the importance of infrastructure but promised nothing.
"No decision has been made in terms of a future infrastructure plan," Flaherty said. "Any decisions made will be in the context of the current fiscal situation."