Government of Canada announces $50 million Ontario Potable Water Program



    OTTAWA, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - Guy Lauzon, MP for Stormont-Dundas-South
Glengarry, on behalf of the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister for the Federal
Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, today announced the
Government of Canada is providing up to an additional $50 million to assist
municipalities which faced economic challenges related to the implementation
of their existing federally funded drinking water projects.
    Funding under the Ontario Potable Water Program (OPWP) will be available
to Ontario municipalities that have previously received federal funding for
water projects under the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program (COIP), and
that have incurred additional costs for their projects to comply with changes
to provincial drinking water regulations.
    "The Government of Canada recognizes the economic challenges faced by
some Ontario municipalities to fund additional costs for drinking water
projects, due to provincial regulatory changes," said Minister Clement. "This
program addresses some of those financial pressures and enables these
communities to respond to local economic development opportunities."
    "Strong, safe, modern communities are essential building blocks for
Canada's competitiveness and long-term prosperity," said MP Lauzon.
"Initiatives such as this potable water program ensure our communities
continue to grow as vibrant and productive places, while providing Canadians
with a quality of life that is second to none."

    Ontario municipalities with water system projects funded under COIP in
order to comply with provincial drinking water regulations will be contacted
directly by Industry Canada officials to confirm their interest in and
eligibility for OPWP funding. Further information is available in the program
backgrounder.

    
                                 Backgrounder

                     Ontario Potable Water Program (OPWP)

    The Ontario Potable Water Program (OPWP) makes funding available to
municipalities that have experienced increased costs for their Canada-Ontario
Infrastructure Program (COIP) water projects to comply with changes to Ontario
drinking water regulations. This one-time investment of up to $50 million will
enable these municipalities to respond to economic development opportunities
and help rebuild community capacity. The OPWP is being administered by
Industry Canada.

    Eligibility

    Ontario municipalities are eligible for OPWP funding if:

    -   they have completed a COIP drinking water project;
    -   they have incurred increased project costs to comply with changes to
        provincial drinking water regulations; and
    -   their COIP project has been renominated by the Government of Ontario
        for consideration of additional federal government support.
    

    Application

    Ontario municipalities with COIP drinking water projects will be
contacted directly by Industry Canada officials within the next few days to
confirm their project status and eligibility for OPWP funding. Municipalities
with completed projects will be asked to submit an OPWP application form and
confirm final COIP project cost details.

    Assessment

    OPWP support will be based on the federal share of project cost increases
resulting from changes to provincial drinking water regulations. These cost
increases will be adjusted to exclude inflation.

    Industry Canada officials will work as quickly as possible to complete
the application and assessment process for eligible municipalities.

    For more information on the OPWP, please contact Christine Cosgrove at
(416) 952-4048.


    February 15, 2008


    Dear Editor,

    Strong, safe, modern communities are essential building blocks for
Canada's competitiveness and long-term prosperity. Many communities across
Ontario will benefit from the Government of Canada's new Ontario Potable Water
Program (OPWP). The program will provide up to $50 million to Ontario
municipalities that have experienced increased costs for their Canada-Ontario
Infrastructure Program (COIP) water projects to comply with changes to
provincial drinking water regulations. Our investment will enable these
municipalities to respond to economic development opportunities and help
rebuild community capacity.
    As Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern
Ontario and Minister responsible for infrastructure programs in Ontario, I
understand the unique circumstances faced by communities that are working to
ensure their residents have a safe, reliable water supply. I have spoken with
many local leaders about how our government can help. We have committed to
finding a solution, and we have delivered on that commitment with the
announcement of the OPWP.
    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal government are taking
action to provide world-class infrastructure for this country. Our Building
Canada plan provides $33 billion over seven years for infrastructure. Of that
$33 billion, $17.6 billion - more than 50 per cent - is going directly to
municipalities via the GST rebate and the Gas Tax Fund. This new money allows
municipalities to plan for the longer term, using a dedicated source of funds
to address ongoing needs such as public transit, clean drinking water,
wastewater infrastructure and local roads and bridges. We are providing
funding that is stable, predictable and flexible.
    The results of Building Canada and other programs like the OPWP will be a
growing economy, a cleaner environment and strong, prosperous communities here
in Ontario and across the country.
    Our government recognizes that our country's future depends on the
success of its communities, both large and small. We will continue to support
communities to ensure that all Ontarians, and all Canadians, have access to
the necessary resources to thrive and prosper.

    Sincerely,

    Tony Clement





For further information:

For further information: Erik Waddell, Press Secretary, Office of the
Honourable Tony Clement, (613) 957-0200; Media Relations, Industry Canada,
(613) 943-2502

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