Statement by FCM President on Liberal commitment to invest in Canada's infrastructure



    OTTAWA, Sept. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The following is a statement from FCM
President Jean Perrault, Mayor of Sherbrooke, on the Liberal Party's
commitment to invest more than $70 billion in Canada's infrastructure over the
next 10 years.
    "During the past 24 hours national party leaders have stepped forward to
deliver major new commitments that, if implemented, would respond to the
bread-and-butter needs of Canadians and strengthen the cities and communities
where they live.
    This morning the Liberal Party unveiled a major new plan that would put a
solution to Canada's massive and growing municipal infrastructure deficit
within reach.
    The deficit is a drag on our economy that hurts Canada's economic
performance. Cities and communities are the foundation of Canada's economic
performance - we must act quickly to repair their growing cracks.
    The effects of the municipal infrastructure deficit are felt at ground
level in communities across Canada. Suburban commuters looking to escape high
gas prices need new buses and light rail. Canadians see rusted bridges, aging
roads, and boil-water advisories and want to know that government is acting to
provide infrastructure that their families can count on. These are the bread
and butter issues that Canadians want addressed in this election.
    The Liberal plan would provide critical tools for turning the tide on the
municipal infrastructure deficit. It is the most significant, longest-term,
national infrastructure funding plan released to date.
    There are four elements within the plan that are critical to any serious
national infrastructure strategy:

    
    - Long-Term Focus: Infrastructure investments are planned, financed,
      built, and maintained over long-term life cycles, yet too often funding
      support has been provided in short, uncoordinated spurts. Moving to
      longer-term planning horizons will allow governments to give Canadians
      a better bang for their infrastructure buck.

    - Protecting Current Investments: The plan protects the purchasing power
      of federal infrastructure investments. As our populations grow, economy
      expands, and infrastructure ages, funding needs in our cities and
      communities will increase. A commitment to index the federal Gas Tax
      Fund will ensure that federal funding keeps pace with local needs.

    - Funding Transit: The plan includes dedicated funding for transit. In
      cities and their surrounding suburban communities, public transit needs
      are so great that they can crowd out funding for other needs. Dedicated
      funding is required so cities can fight traffic congestion and help
      Canadians escape high gas prices by making the shift from cars to
      public transit, as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    - Dedicated funding for small communities: Rural, remote and northern
      communities have unique challenges that must be responded to with
      specific program design and funding allocations. The Liberal plan
      delivers on this as well.
    

    In addition, the Liberal package maintains its earlier commitment to
share annual federal surpluses that exceed $3 billion with municipalities.
    The country must face its infrastructure challenge. If we act now to tie
our investments to long-term objectives and protect their purchasing power,
then we can halt growth in the infrastructure deficit and begin to secure the
foundations of our economy. If we do not act, then despite important recent
investments, the deficit will spiral beyond control, hurting our economy and
quality of life.
    The Liberal plan presents a critical opportunity for all political
parties and for the country as a whole. By seizing this opportunity to put the
condition of our roads, bridges, water systems and public transit at the
centre of the election debate, parties will show that they are ready to act on
the day-to-day issues that affect the lives of Canadians.
    We are confident that all parties will come forward with their own
response to this national issue. Successive federal governments have made
important infrastructure funding commitments, including the permanent Gas Tax
Fund. We are ready to work with any party that wants to build on these
achievements to deliver concrete solutions for Canadians."




For further information:

For further information: Maurice Gingues, (613) 907-6395,
mgingues@fcm.ca

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Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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