Mayor expects gains from Ont. spending, but critics disagree
Ottawa stands to benefit from provincial money to fix roads and other spending, Ontario’s municipal affairs minister says, although the city doesn’t know yet by exactly how much.
Ottawa will be getting its share of a $400-million fund to fix municipal roads and infrastructure, said Jim Watson, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister and Ottawa West-Nepean MPP. The exact amount will be revealed later this week, but Watson said it would be "significant."
"Ottawa will get its share. We know driving the streets of Ottawa presents a challenge," said Watson, adding that $200 million the province had set aside for a local light-rail project also remains on the table.
In yesterday’s provincial budget, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan unveiled several spending measures that Watson said would help Ottawa, including $1.5 billion for skills training and $1 billion for infrastructure.
A big investment in skills training will help schools here, said Watson, who cited a $200-million strategic skills training capital investments program that should help Algonquin College secure funds for a major expansion of its Woodroffe campus.
Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre, said when taken together, the city’s provincial funding could equal $60 million when all programs are fully realized.
Mayor Larry O’Brien called the budget "balanced" and congratulated the province on its spending package, even though it did not include plans to pick up public health services costs, as the city assumed in its budget projections (see related story, page 3).
"We always want more but in the context of the financial reality over the next year or two I think this is very good," he said. "All in all I’m pretty satisfied with how they treated Ottawa."
But Nepean-Carleton Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod called it a dire budget.
"It failed to address the big issues facing the province and ignored the warnings from economists that Ontario was on its way to becoming a have-not province."
Her federal counterpart, MP Pierre Poilievre, said it was disappointing the Ontario Liberals did not follow the federal Conservatives’ advice and lower taxes.
"Ontario has the highest rate of taxation in the country," he said. "The budget does nothing to change that."