Background: $1 Billion Infrastructure Fund Fleeced by Federal Government for Other Purposes
January 31, 2013
OTTAWA – How would you feel if someone takes money out of your piggy bank? Muncipalities across Canada that want to invest in green, sustainable infrastructure are experiencing just that. Instead of being able to access a $1 billion federal fund, they find the piggy bank broken with a huge portion of the money flowing elsewhere.
In May 2009, the federal government launched Canada’s Green Infrastructure Fund (GIF). The initial promise was to spend a total amount of $1 billion over five years starting in 2009, meaning $200 million per year.
Unfortunately, Harper didn’t stick to his promise as the fund stayed well below the $200 million/year target. Federal accounts show that only $71.5 million were spent over the first 3 years. Federal funding commitments have been made for 19 projects, adding up to a total of $678.4 million.
So where did the rest of the money go? Starting in 2009, the department began moving money out of the Green Infrastructure Fund. According to Infrastructure Canada, since 2009, a total of $170 million was transferred from the GIF to other federal departments for other priorities:
- Natural Resources Canada, for management of the Forestry Industry Transformation program ($100 million: 50% of transfer was approved by Parliament prior to 2012–2013);
- Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, for the Temporary Initiative for the Strengthening of Quebec’s Forest Economies ($30 million: 50% of the transfer was approved by Parliament prior to 2012–2013) and for Natural Gas Pipeline between Vallée Jonction and Thetford Mines ($18.15 million: of which $14.5 million was transferred upon approval by Parliament prior to 2012–2013); and
- Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment ($21.85 million: of which an amount of $5.45 million was approved by Parliament prior to 2012–2013).
In addition, the federal government removed $45 million of unallocated funds from the GIF as part of the 2010 Strategic Review process. Finally, and more recently, in the Main Estimates 2012–2013, $58.7 million was reallocated from the GIF to finance operating requirements of the department.
In summary, at least 27.4% ($273.7 million) of the original five-year GIF budget will not be spent on GIF projects. Almost 5%, $47.9 million, of the $1 billion GIF launched in 2009 has not been accounted for at all.