TORONTO - Ontario's Premier said Monday it seemed "only fair" for the province to match federal infrastructure funding dollar for dollar after Ottawa committed $7 billion on building projects.
"The whole purpose of the stimulus package and our combined efforts is to make commitments to do things that we hadn't originally planned to do - that's part and parcel of what we committed to as Premiers," Dalton McGuinty said Monday night.
"My sense is that I think that this is only fair, that the federal budget is going to put forward infrastructure dollars that are available, that represent new incremental spending that will call for new spending on the part of the province."
Federal Transport Minister John Baird said earlier Monday that the infrastructure money, to be announced in Tuesday's federal budget, will be given to projects that will be completed within the next two years.
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said earlier in the day the province is "absolutely" prepared to match infrastructure investments dollar-for-dollar, even if it leads to a bigger deficit.
"If Mr. Flaherty has substantial infrastructure money that requires the province matching it, then obviously we're going to do that," Duncan said.
Ontario's projected $500 million deficit is expected to grow by the time Duncan tables his own budget later this year, but he wouldn't speculate on the new figure Monday, saying only that "probably every government in Canada is going to have a similar challenge as the feds are facing."
The comments came after the Harper government outlined a six-point economic stimulus plan in the throne speech ahead of Tuesday's federal budget, which is expected to include a $64-billion two-year deficit.
The plan calls for stimulating the economy through public and private investment, as well as working to protect the stability of the financial system and helping for the poor as well as struggling industries such as the auto sector and forestry.
McGuinty said there "wasn't a lot of substantive news" in the throne speech, but said he was "very much looking forward to the budget and to seeing a real indication on the part of the government that they understand Ontario's needs."
"I think in particular that they'll provide us with some direct support when it comes to equity, when it comes to employment insurance for workers in Ontario who've lost their jobs, and some real new infrastructure dollars as well."