Last year’s Federal Budget promised to transfer uncommitted funds from Conservative infrastructure programs through the Gas Tax Fund directly to local governments. This has turned out to be a fake promise.
Of the many accomplishments of the Conservatives in government, the direct, respectful relationship we had between the two government levels was one of our accomplishments I am most proud of. Municipalities preferred the changes we made to the Federal Gas Tax program that made it permanent, predictable and fair.
The previous Liberal gas tax funding formula had all municipalities apply to a shared pool of funding. Municipal leaders likening it to buying a lottery ticket to get infrastructure funding. Our Conservative Government changed the system so that funds from the federal gas tax are distributed on per capita basis, so every municipality receives a portion each year. This has allowed for long-term planning, resulting in overall lower costs. More importantly, communities could set local priorities, rather than be dictated to by Toronto.
Not only are municipalities still awaiting funds promised in the federal budget, now they are being told most of the money is gone from Conservative legacy infrastructure programs. When the Liberals took office, $837,033,229 was available to be transferred to municipalities. By the time of the federal budget, five months later, that amount had been whittled down to $13,327,279 to be split among 444 municipalities in Ontario, with no promise that any money will be available by the end of the current fiscal year.
The non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer, in his Report to Parliament – Following the Money, has identified the lack of transparency in exactly what projects are being funded. He has also noted that Liberal infrastructure funding is biased against rural and small town Canada.
The Liberal Infrastructure Minister, despite rigorous questioning by the Conservative Critic, refuses to be accountable to Canadians. This spells trouble for taxpayers. The last time Canadians saw this lack of accountability, it took a public inquiry to expose the abuse of taxpayers’ dollars. Canadians still do not know what happened to all the money stolen by Liberals in the Sponsorship Scandal.