Report recommends Ottawa set up new fund for northern infrastructure"... A federal board is warning Ottawa that doling out infrastructure cash based on population is shortchanging the North, where costs are much higher and communities are small.
In a report to be released on Wednesday, the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board is calling for changes to the way infrastructure money is spread across the country.
The federally appointed advisory board is particularly concerned with the rules for the New Building Canada Plan, a $14-billion, 10-year program that started in 2014. There is an urgency to the debate given that the federal Liberals have said the fund has about $10-billion left, and the government's priority is to fast-track approvals under that program while it works on rules for the additional infrastructure spending promised during the election campaign.
"Since the majority of infrastructure funding is based on a per capita formula, it puts the north at a disadvantage compared to the south due to a substantially lower population," says the report, which recommends Ottawa set up a new fund specifically for northern infrastructure.
"People don't realize how difficult it is to live up north," said Hilda Broomfield-Letemplier, president of Pressure Pipe Steel Fabrication Ltd. in Newfoundland and Labrador and a member of the economic development board that is releasing Wednesday's report.
While the rest of Canada works itself into a frenzy over $7 cauliflower and other unpleasant aspects of a low Canadian dollar, northern Canadians have been dealing with exorbitant prices for years.
Getting food and other goods across the North is a costly logistical challenge owing to a wide range of infrastructure issues, including inadequate sea and airports and the reliance on ice roads and airstrips...."