McGuinty hints at cash for roads, transit in budget
Ontario cities and towns can bank on a financial windfall for new roads, bridges and transit this summer, the Liberals suggest.
As Tuesday’s provincial budget nears, Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan are dropping hints of some good news for municipalities.
"We are investing heavily in infrastructure," Duncan told reporters yesterday, noting the province will "fill in the holes" left after federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s recent budget.
Echoing that sentiment, McGuinty pointed out the province is proceeding with its ambitious $17.5-billion Move Ontario 2020 transit plan for the Greater Toronto Area — even though Ottawa has yet to commit to its share of the project.
"We’re going to fill in for two-thirds of that. We’d love to have the feds join us for the final one-third. We won’t wait for them," the premier said.
The Ontario budget surplus is expected to exceed $800 million by the time the public accounts are finalized this summer, and money should be available for cash-strapped municipalities, thanks to a Liberal plan to earmark a chunk of surpluses for civic capital projects.
If the surplus exceeds $800 million, the first $600 million would go toward paying down Ontario’s $163-billion debt with $200 million being divvied up among municipalities based on population.