QUEBEC – Ontario and Quebec are calling on the federal government to increase infrastructure funding because of the slower rate of economic recovery and job creation in Eastern Canada.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec’s Philippe Couillard say they are looking for improved and stable funding that allows provinces to determine their own infrastructure investment priorities.
“Infrastructure in Canada has to be modernized from one ocean to another but I would say it’s particularly important in Eastern Canada because the economic recovery and job creation is weaker in the East than in the West,” Couillard told a news conference after their meeting.
“We both agree that the Canadian contribution to infrastructure investments should be increased.
“In Quebec, we spend about three per cent of our gross domestic product on infrastructure, which is also the case for the Ontario government. Historically it’s around five per cent…so there’s room for additional investment.”
The communications director for Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel defended Ottawa’s infrastructure investments in recent years.
“Our government has introduced the largest federal infrastructure plan in Canada’s history,” said Michele-Jamali Paquette.
“The $70B over 10 years New Building Canada Plan provides provinces, territories and municipalities with significant, long-term and predictable funding.”
Wynne told reporters she would like to see Prime Minister Stephen Harper meet with premiers to discuss various topics.
“If I could wish for a future scenario, I would wish for much more collaboration among the premiers and the prime minister and his government,” she said.
“Do I see that happening? Hope springs eternal. I will remain optimistic.”
Wynne and Couillard also discussed climate change as well as trade between the two provinces.
They agreed to hold a joint cabinet meeting by the end of the year.
Wynne said such a get-together would be the fourth of its kind between leaders of the two provinces.
© The Canadian Press, 2014