OTTAWA - A new report suggests that government infrastructure spending did generate a significant number of jobs last year.

The Conference Board of Canada says federal and provincial stimulus on infrastructure preserved or created about 70,000 jobs in Ontario last year.

The report was conducted on behalf of the Ontario government and purports to show that job losses in the provinces would have been far greater during the recession without the infusion of public money.

The think-tank says half the jobs were created in the service industry and about one-third directly in construction.

The report says stimulus spending is expected to save or create an additional 40,000 jobs in the province this year.

Economist Pedro Antunes says Ontario was the most hard-hit province during the recession, with an economic slide of 3.6 per cent last year, one full point above the national average.

The $53.6 billion in infrastructure spending, typically spread between Ottawa, Ontario and the municipalities, helped contain the damage by adding about 0.9 per cent to the province's gross domestic product.

Antunes says studies show that infrastructure improvements also bring lasting effects in terms of lower business costs and improving worker productivity.

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