Dianne Watts

CONSERVATIVES say that this week, the Liberal government tabled a budget that raised taxes, didn’t meet Canadian municipalities’ infrastructure expectations and included no plan to return the budget back to balance.

In response, Official Opposition Critics for Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs, Dianne Watts and Alain Rayes on Friday noted: “We already knew that the Liberals were planning to take billions of dollars away from communities to pay for their Infrastructure Bank. Now we learn that they’re also going to cancel the Public Transit Tax Credit, making it more expensive for Canadians to use public transit. This common sense tax credit was introduced by the previous Conservative government to encourage more Canadians to take public transit. The Liberals’ decision to cancel this credit will discourage the use of public transit and make it more expensive for low-income workers, seniors and students.

“When it comes to public transit, the Liberals have been telling municipalities one thing, but provinces have been telling them another. Municipalities were planning for provinces to match federal funding amounts, but the budget failed to include a cost sharing requirement for provinces. This is poor leadership on the part of the federal Liberals, leaving municipalities to fend for themselves. Many municipalities are now wondering how much more they will have to pay for their public transit projects and where they will get the money.

“We were also deeply disappointed to see that the Liberals did not listen to calls from the Official Opposition and municipalities across the country to change the allocation model for public transit funding. By allocating funding based on ridership, the Liberal government is disadvantaging Canada’s growing communities in favour of already-developed urban centres. Growing municipalities like Surrey, Lévis and Hamilton (who arguably need more public transit funding to accommodate booming populations) will be receiving less money than places like Toronto or Vancouver because they have less people who currently use public transit. Canadians can’t use public transit systems that don’t exist. The Liberal government should be assisting growing communities so that they can expand their public transit, instead of favouring large municipalities like Vancouver or Toronto that already have developed public transit.

“Since the Liberal government took office, 94% of announced infrastructure projects have failed to start construction. This means that jobs are not being created and the economy is not being stimulated. The Liberals also froze nearly a billion infrastructure dollars that were supposed to be spent in communities last year, and Budget 2017 revealed that this funding won’t become available until after 2022.

“Instead of raising taxes and hosting more photo-ops, Justin Trudeau should focus on supporting policies that will create jobs for Canadians. Municipalities need good infrastructure, but they also need programs that are easy to access, provide predictable funding, and do not leave small and rural communities behind. Conservatives will continue to hold the Liberals to account and push for open, transparent, and accountable infrastructure funding for our communities.”