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PCs leaving federal infrastructure money on the table: Wilson

CALGARY, AB (May 16, 2014): The PC government must sign the framework agreements with the Government of Canada necessary to access federal grant money, before the clock runs out on another short construction season, Wildrose Municipal Affairs Critic Jeff Wilson said today.

The PCs have so far refused to sign the standard agreements for two major federal grant programs: the New Building Canada Fund and the Federal Gas Tax Fund. Alberta municipalities are entitled to this money, but both the former Infrastructure Minister, Ric McIver, and the former Municipal Affairs Minister, Ken Hughes, failed to do this before they left their posts to run for the PC leadership. It has now been more than six months since the Federal government approached the Province to sign the New Gas Tax Agreement which was introduced in the 2013 Federal Budget. The PCs are dropping the ball for municipalities, Wilson said.

“Ottawa has made an incredible amount of financial support available through these funds, but the PC government has failed to sign the agreements and provide access for communities in a timely way,” Wilson said. “It appears Cabinet Ministers in key roles who were responsible for removing the final barriers on these programs bucked their responsibilities. It’s unfortunate that key members of government were more concerned with internal party matters than looking after the needs of Albertans.”

Wilson said the PCs have established a pattern that they can’t seem to get around to signing standard agreements and availing themselves of federal resources. In 2012, they missed an opportunity to capitalize on matching flood mitigation grants – and in 2013, they wasted six months before filing the paperwork that would have seen Ottawa advance $500 million of the $3 billion in federal flood aid pledged for southern Alberta. This latest inaction is particularly harmful to smaller communities who rely heavily on these grants to support key projects, he said.

“Because this government hasn’t signed these agreements, Alberta communities are at risk of losing the opportunity to leverage federal infrastructure support this construction season,” Wilson said. “This is completely unacceptable. This government needs to sign these agreements and get the money flowing. They need to start taking the business of governing more seriously.”