MP laments Liberal spending but reviews upside

MP Cathy McLeod.

MP Cathy McLeod.

Despite the Liberal government’s penchant for spending money, there are some opportunities for local governments to take advantage of funding, says Conservative MP Cathy McLeod.

The Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo confessed to indulging in a “partisan moment” today (Thursday, April 28, 2016) during a presentation to the TNRD board.

McLeod repeated Conservative opposition criticisms of the spending levels of the Justin Trudeau government, but said there’s help available for communities.

She said Canada will borrow $113.2 billion over the next five years, “with no plan to return the balance.”

But she pointed out that the New Canada Building Fund — the program in which local, provincial and federal levels of government share the costs of infrastructure projects — has added five new categories: tourism, culture, recreation, passenger ferries services infrastructure, and community assets and municipal buildings.

As well, federal funding under that program for disaster mitigation projects can now be up to 50 per cent.

The Liberal government has promised $120 billion in new infrastructure pending over 10 years.

One director wanted to know if the $225-million Clean Water and Wastewater Fund — established to repair water, storm water and wastewater infrastructure — could be used to address the bio-solids issue.

Another wanted to know about possible funding for water meters for rural water systems. Others were interested in expanding broadband service.

The answers were imprecise for several of the questions, including my own with respect to the need to broaden gas-tax funding to include equipment for rural volunteer fire departments.

The struggles of these small community departments to raise money for their basic needs is a major issue and one I’ll be writing more about in the near future, and supporting changes.

I also expressed the hope that the new “community assets” category for the infrastructure fund might offer some hope.

McLeod promised to look into the questions brought up during her presentation.


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