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PCs still failing to access federal infrastructure money: Wildrose

CALGARY, AB (May 27, 2014): The PC government has still not completed agreements with the Government of Canada or created the application portal necessary to access federal infrastructure grant money Wildrose Municipal Affairs Critic Jeff Wilson and Wildrose Infrastructure Critic Drew Barnes said today.

On May 16, Wildrose pointed out that the PC government had 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 and other eligible groups 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.

Wilson said the PCs are continuing to drop the ball for municipalities, colleges and other eligible groups who are at serious risk of missing the 2014 construction season.

“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,” he said. “Each time the provincial government gets in the way of federal funds, or collects and distributes dollars on the federal government’s behalf, the process becomes far from open and transparent. This government has a track record of playing politics with infrastructure dollars and this seems to be yet another example of that. The PCs need to get their act together, stop playing politics with this file and make sure all of the funding allocated for Alberta projects this fiscal year is actually used.”

The New Building Canada Fund, through its Provincial Infrastructure Component, makes hundreds of millions of dollars in matching infrastructure grants available to eligible municipalities, band councils, public sector bodies, not-for-profits and post-secondary institutions. However, to apply for this money, these groups must apply through portals created by Alberta Infrastructure. So far, no portal has been created.

Barnes said the PC government wouldn’t have to take on so much debt to build infrastructure if it acted more responsibly when it comes to securing federal infrastructure grants.

“The Provincial government seems keen to play politics with applications for New Building Canada Fund money,” Barnes said. “Wildrose believes that a full, public and prioritized infrastructure list would take away any temptation to rig the application process. Our municipalities and other eligible bodies are entitled to apply for this money and it’s a shame that some of these funds may go unallocated because of these PC political games.”