OTTAWA - The Harper government will pour $7 billion into infrastructure as part of an economic stimulus package in Tuesday's budget.

Transport Minister John Baird said $4 billion of the money will be spent over two years on provincial and municipal projects that are ready to go, including roads, bridges and sewer systems.

About $2 billion will go to repairs, maintenance and construction at colleges and universities, and $1 billion will be spent on green infrastructure.

"Tomorrow, the finance minister will produce an economic action plan that responds to the global recession," Baird said Monday.

"It will stimulate the economy and help create jobs, take immediate action to build roads bridges and other critical infrastructure across the country and help protect the hardest hit by the recession."

His announcement was welcomed by some of the potential beneficiaries.

Jean Perrault, mayor of Sherbrooke, Que., and president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, called the sum significant.

"We are encouraged by what we heard today," he said.

"Getting new infrastructure projects started this year is our best recession-fighter."

James Knight, president of the Association Canadian Community Colleges, said it's "good news for students, for colleges and for Canada."

"Our colleges badly need an infusion of new capital to help them expand and upgrade their infrastructure and acquire leading-edge technology," he said.

"Today's announcement does that."

Baird said the government wants to get things moving soon.

"We're ready to cut red tape and duplication to get these projects moving very quickly," he said.

Perrault said that's good news, because municipalities have hundreds of projects ready to go and don't need to get bogged down in paperwork.

"We're ready to put the shovels in the ground," he said. "I hope the programs are very lean in questions and application forms so we can put people to work."

Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy, however, said the Conservative government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have low credibility.

"Can Mr. Harper be believed when he says he gets it?"

Kennedy said the government has already announced billions in infrastructure spending, but in many cases hasn't cut the cheques for them.

"This is an area of high skepticism," he said.

He also said it's not clear whether Baird is talking about new money, noting the government has recycled spending announcements in the past.

But a government spokesman insisted the money is all new funding.

Baird's announcement is latest move in a series of carefully orchestrated leaks in advance of the budget.

Last week, officials revealed that the budget will run a $64-billion deficit over two years - plunging the country back into deficit for the first time in a dozen years.

The fate of the minority Conservative government hinges on passage of the budget.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has said he will wait to see what's in the full document before deciding whether to bring down the Tories and form a coalition government with the NDP.

Baird said the budget comes out of "the most comprehensive and inclusive pre-budget consultations in Canadian history" involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals.