Wynne blasts feds for inadequate funding of Ontario infrastructure projects

TORONTO – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is firing back at federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, accusing him of playing the “blame game” on infrastructure funding.

Oliver accused the Ontario government on Monday of causing delays in Ottawa’s plan to spend nearly $11 billion on infrastructure by not providing a list of projects the province wants to see funded.

But during a speech today to a conference on public-private partnerships, Wynne said Oliver’s “rhetorical enthusiasm does not build bridges or ease congestion.”

She said the federal allocation for Ontario projects is so “inadequate” that her Liberal government has little choice but to apply pressure on Ottawa for better funding.

Ontario plans to spend $130 billion over 10 years on public transit, roads and bridges, but Wynne complained the federal allocation for the province under the Building Canada Plan will be only $2.7 billion over a decade.

She said with low interest rates and a federal surplus expected next year, “the time to act is now.”

The Ontario government faces a $12.5-billion deficit that Wynne has pledged to eliminate by 2017-18.

Oliver said Monday that he was still waiting for Ontario to submit its list of preferred infrastructure projects under the Building Canada Plan, which is designed to give predictable long-term funding to provinces and territories.

But Wynne said Ontario has been waiting for months on a federal response to a proposed deal on how the province can access the Building Canada funds.

“Our government has made infrastructure a real economic priority, so we have no shortage of projects in need of a real federal partner, and have been very clear about this,” she said in her speech. “With every delay, Canada’s persistent infrastructure gap widens and economic growth narrows.”