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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:22 am    Post subject: Where is the infrastructure spending promised ? Reply with quote

Liberals promised an infrastructure spending bonanza, but a year into their term the money is trickling out

Claire Brownell | January 13, 2017 | Last Updated: Jan 13 2:49 PM ET
More from Claire Brownell
In Stephen Harper's final 12 months in office the Conservatives spent $28 billion on federal procurement compared with the $9.3 billion spent by the Liberals in their first 12 months in power.

The federal Liberals have been talking up their $60-billion infrastructure plan since the election, but there’s been little concrete progress to show for it.

During the 12 months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took office on Nov. 4, 2015, the federal government awarded $9.6 billion in contracts. That’s about one-third of the $28 billion awarded the previous year during the Conservatives final year in office, a Financial Post analysis has found.

In opposition, the Liberals relentlessly pushed the Conservatives on open competition in military contracts. In government, however, the overall proportion of contracts they awarded without a competitive process has been 17 per cent, the same as the previous regime.

But the dollar value of sole-sourced contracts awarded by the Liberals actually increased. About one-quarter of the value of contracts awarded under Trudeau went to non-competitive deals, compared to 14 per cent during former Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s final year.

The Liberals campaigned on an infrastructure spending bonanza to boost the economy, but, just as importantly, they promised a transparent, modernized procurement system to facilitate it all. More than a year into their term, Canadian companies and workers are still waiting for the promised spending, job creation and system changes to materialize.

The importance of a competitive and efficient procurement system to the economy is no small thing. Public procurement, or the purchase of goods and services by governments and government-owned businesses, accounts for about 12 per cent of the gross domestic product of developed countries.

On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report noting the announced infrastructure money isn’t being spent as quickly as the government promised.

“There is a growing risk that money the government originally expected to be spent in 2016-17 will actually generate economic activity in subsequent years,” the report said.

In a statement, Public Services and Procurement Canada noted most of the difference in spending between the current and previous governments comes from three multi-billion-dollar contracts awarded during Harper’s final year, including a new bridge for the St. Lawrence Corridor and new naval ships from Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote said changes are underway to make the procurement system more transparent, less complicated and technologically up-to-date.

“Canadians expect modern tools from their government,” Foote said. “I am committed to finding innovative and modern approaches to procurement to generate meaningful economic and social benefits for Canadian industry and create good, middle-class jobs for Canadians.”

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Friday he’s comfortable with the amount of infrastructure money the Liberal government has managed to get into the economy, despite the PBO report questioning the speed of the federal government’s spending program.

“We have a significant number of projects already underway. The numbers are actually, from our perspective, in the range that we expected,” Morneau told reporters after emerging from a meeting with private sector economists in Toronto.

But interim procurement ombudsman Lorenzo Ieraci, who reviews complaints related to federal contracts and reports to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement while working at arm’s length, said he’s still waiting for talk to translate into action.

“I’ve been told stuff is being worked on, but I can’t give you anything specific,” he said. “I can’t point to anything tangible that’s being done.”

There are plenty of plans, however. In the fall, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat told the office of the procurement ombudsman that a new centralized database for government contracts would be available by Jan. 1. A spokesman for the treasury board said the cabinet committee now intends to publish centralized data for the first quarter of 2017 by April 30.

Last April, Public Services and Procurement Canada announced plans to move the procurement process from a paper-based system to an electronic one. At the time, the ministry said it planned to award a contract for the new e-procurement system in the fall of 2016, but the government is still in the process of accepting bids from interested suppliers.

Under the current system, companies trying to figure out whether a market exists for their products or services have to first figure out which of four websites has the information they’re looking for. From there, they can only break down information into broad categories.

For example, it’s possible to calculate how much the federal government spent on medical, dental and veterinary supplies in a given time period, but not how much it specifically spent on, say, needles.


HandoutWhen in oppostion, the federal Liberals heavily criticized the Conservatives for sole-source the contract for F-35 fighter jets. .

Former procurement ombudsman Frank Brunetta bluntly summarized the situation in a report filed at the end of his term in December 2015.

“Transparency, information disclosure as a means of holding public officials accountable, is opaque in Canadian federal procurement,” he said. “Anyone suggesting otherwise is inflicted with a severe case of credulity, is misinformed or is just plain dishonest.”

Allan Cutler, a former public servant best known as the sponsorship scandal whistleblower who now runs a procurement consultancy, said he’s not optimistic the Liberals’ proposed changes will result in meaningful improvements.

He brought up the Phoenix pay system implemented last year, which was supposed to automate the payroll of federal employees but instead resulted in delayed or incorrect paycheques for about 80,000 workers.

“Every time they try to do a system, it costs way more money than what they said it was going to and it usually doesn’t work as well as they thought it would,” Cutler said. “Nothing is simple.”

Tracking sole-sourced contracts certainly isn’t simple. Cutler said the true number is underreported, with many going unchallenged because suppliers don’t want to upset the government departments they’re trying to woo as clients.

The Harper government came under frequent criticism for sole-sourcing large defence contracts, such as its plan to purchase Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet without a competitive process. The Trudeau administration has yet to award any contracts worth more than $1 billion, but the track record in its first year suggests it is sole-sourcing just as often.

“There could be huge savings out there,” Cutler said. “Industry should be up in arms.”



Last edited by RCO on Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:26 am; edited 1 time in total

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liberals pushing back $828M in planned federal infrastructure spending

That amount represents about one quarter of the $3.27 billion promised in the 2016 federal budget for new and existing infrastructure programs in the 2016-2017 fiscal year

February 15, 2017
by Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA—The Liberal government won’t be able to spend hundreds of millions in infrastructure money this year, instead moving the planned spending to next year.

Spending documents released Feb. 14 show that $828 million that was budgeted to be spent this year on the Liberals’ new infrastructure plan will be moved over to the coming fiscal year that begins April 1.

That amount represents about one quarter of the $3.27 billion budgeted to be spent on new and existing infrastructure programs in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

The figure doesn’t include $282 million that Public Services and Procurement Canada and Fisheries and Oceans had planned to spend on federal infrastructure projects in this fiscal year. Nor does it include $24.4 million being carried over from a national program to upgrade community and cultural centres as part of Canada 150 celebrations.

It’s not unheard of to have federal infrastructure money “reprofiled” from one fiscal year to the next: Spending analyses have shown that about one-quarter of infrastructure funds don’t get spent in the year for which they are budgeted.

The reason is that federal dollars only flow once project proponents submit receipts for reimbursement, often leaving a lag between when work takes place and when infrastructure money is actually spent. In some cases, the federal government won’t receive receipts until the end of a project.

And projects themselves can be delayed for any number of reasons, such as bad weather or a labour disruption, that are beyond the control of the federal government.

The money, however, doesn’t disappear.

“Money committed to specific projects continues to be available for those projects and is reprofiled as needed to reflect the updated needs of our partners and their timelines,” said Brook Simpson, a spokesman for Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

“We will continue to work with all of our partners to deliver on our infrastructure commitments.”

The government’s economic agenda is tied to spurring construction projects that can create enough growth to help bring the budget back to balance, which Finance Canada doesn’t expect to happen for decades under current spending plans.

The government is quick to say that a lack of federal spending doesn’t necessarily mean that cities and provinces aren’t spending money on construction projects that can yield the needed economic benefit.

The latest figures tabled in Parliament add to concerns raised earlier this month by the parliamentary budget office that departments are well behind on allocating infrastructure spending, putting economic growth projections at risk.

The Liberals’ first budget predicted that the infrastructure money would boost the economy by 0.6 per cent over two years.

Last week, in an appearance before the Senate’s national finance committee, budget officer Jean-Denis Frechette said the actual impact could now be lower, given the slow pace of fund allocation. Frechette’s office now predicts a reduction in employment equal to 7,400 full-time jobs.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Budget watchdog warns slow infrastructure funding puts economic stimulus goals at risk

New documents show most of $837M unspent by previous government now allocated

By Jordan Press, The Canadian Press Posted: Feb 02, 2017 8:26 AM ET| Last Updated: Feb 02, 2017 9:12 PM ET

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced two new infrastructure programs alongside representatives of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Thursday.

The Liberal government has brushed off renewed criticism of the slow movement of billions in new infrastructure spending that threatens to put economic growth projections at risk.

In a report released Thursday, the parliamentary budget office said that of the $13.6 billion in infrastructure money announced in last year's budget and slated to be spent through March 2018, departments have only identified $4.6 billion worth of projects.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the government is confident cities and provinces will complete projects by the end of next March, with the exception of a few whose funding flows in 2019 and beyond, even as the budget watchdog warned of "a significant gap" to meeting that target.

The timing of spending is critical to federal economic projections and the ensuing effect on federal finances.

The Liberals' first budget predicted that the infrastructure work would boost the economy by 0.6 per cent over two years, but to meet that target, the government would have to see roughly $11 billion worth of federally funded work done by next March.

Sohi said the federal government has had to prod provincial officials to finalize the list of projects they want funded. Federal officials are still poring over project proposals with the expectation that the government will approve them for funding over the coming months.

Sohi himself has approved about 1,200 of the almost 3,900 projects being funded through the Liberals' infrastructure plan, but the PBO report says that getting details of the spending has proven difficult.

The budget office said the Liberals have not provided any performance measurement framework to make sure the money is meeting its intended goals. Nor have all 31 departments and agencies responsible for the money provided enough information about where the money is being spent, the report said.

"We do have reporting milestones to which they have to abide by and we will be seeing some more information come our way," Sohi said.

Phase 1 meant to be short-term stimulus

The report suggests the lack of information may become worse when the Liberals launch their promised infrastructure bank, that would use public dollars to leverage private investment into local infrastructure projects. As it stands, the report says, it is difficult to determine the actual financial risk to federal finances for loan guarantees that will be part of the bank.

The report is the latest from the budget watchdog that has raised concerns about the pace of infrastructure spending, which often doesn't happen as quickly as governments expect. Federal dollars only flow once project proponents submit receipts for reimbursement, often leaving a lag between when work takes place and when infrastructure money is actually spent.

The Liberals plan to spend $82.8 billion from their infrastructure program over the next decade, not including the more than $100 billion to be spent over the same time from previous infrastructure programs.

The first phase of the program was designed as a short-term stimulus package to repair aging and crumbling infrastructure in cities and on reserves and provide cash to local officials to plan for larger projects that would be eligible for funding on the second and more lucrative phase, the details of which will be unveiled in this year's budget.

The report arrived on the same day the government and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities unveiled details of a $50-million fund mentioned in the 2016 budget designed to help cities better plan infrastructure work, increase their capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adjust to the impacts of climate change.

Idle infrastructure money now allocated

Newly released documents show the Liberal government is expecting to send some $30 million in unused infrastructure money directly to cities through a temporary top-up to the gas tax fund.

The party has long promised to shift unused infrastructure money to the fund, which allows cities to spend on roads, highways, transit, water and sewer systems without having to apply for federal funding.

The $30-million sum is the bulk of what's left of $837 million from four separate programs, set up under previous governments, that had yet to be spent when the Liberals took office in November 2015.

The Liberals gave the provinces and territories until last March to allocate as much of the leftover money as possible to new projects.

Cities and provinces have long argued the money was difficult to access because previous governments had put various restrictions on how the money could be spent.

Infrastructure 20160920
Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Wednesday that most of the unspent infrastructure money leftover from the previous government has now been allocated. Only about $30 million of the over $800 million is left, and will now be put into the gas tax fund for cities. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

More than $800 million of what was left over had been allocated; one document tabled in Parliament this week showed that just prior to the March deadline, there was less than $32 million still left.

"That money (the $837 million) we could have delivered through the gas tax fund," Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Wednesday on his way into a caucus meeting.

"The vast majority of those dollars are now allocated to new projects and only a few million will be delivered to municipalities through the gas tax fund."

Time lags complicate analysis

The documents tabled in Parliament this week show the government now expects to send about $30.3 million through the gas tax fund at the end of March, with Ontario receiving the biggest top up at $13.7 million, followed by Quebec at $5.8 million.

Construction is underway on about 60 per cent of the 1,200 projects Sohi has approved since taking office, the minister said.

The problem for the Liberals is that infrastructure money doesn't flow quickly.

It only leaves the federal treasury once project proponents submit receipts for reimbursement, often leaving a lag between when work takes place and when infrastructure money is actually spent.

Projects in Quebec, for instance, don't typically seek reimbursement until the project is completed, meaning that money is often not spent in the year that the federal government projects.

Earlier this month, the parliamentary budget office said Ottawa's planned infrastructure investments did not materialize in the first half of the year and there's a growing risk the spending will have to be pushed into 2017-18. That could have an effect on the economy and delay growth the Liberals predicted to see this year from their infrastructure program.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Canada’s Infrastructure Delivery Hits Snags

Cornerstone of Liberals' platform at risk of missing objectives while debt mounts

By Rahul Vaidyanath, Epoch Times | February 9, 2017 AT 7:31 AM
Last Updated:

February 9, 2017 6:06 pm

Vehicles make their way into and out of downtown Toronto along the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto. New toll roads are often cited as important infrastructure improvements in Canada. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)

The Canadian federal government’s best-laid plans for boosting the economy through infrastructure spending are running into obstacles and already behind schedule.

A Feb. 2 report from the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) called “Following the money” attempts to get a handle on the $11.3 billion that will be allocated over two years via 31 departments and agencies.

PBO Jean-Denis Fréchette told the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (SSCNF) on Feb. 7 that spending tends to be back-end-loaded and that delays occur at the provincial and municipal levels after the Treasury Board approves the expenditure.

For fiscal year 2016–17 (ending March 31, 2017), roughly $3 billion of the $4 billion is expected to be spent. Some catching up is expected for 2017–18 with $10.4 billion of the $11.3 billion of “Phase 1” of Canada’s new infrastructure plan being spent.

We’ve got to reduce the duplication.

— John Gamble, President and CEO, ACEC

“Recognizing that the federal government with their eyes wide open have signed in support to deficit financing to put this infrastructure in place for the longer-term economic health, it’s very important that they see the dividends of these investments sooner than later,” said John Gamble, President and CEO of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC), a not-for-profit organization that represents some 400 consulting engineering companies across Canada.

The ACEC is all for the commitment to infrastructure, but is concerned with the delays getting the money out on the street and getting shovels into the ground.

“I would suspect that the federal government itself would be somewhat frustrated with the slow pace [of spending],” Gamble said in a phone interview.

Over 85 percent of infrastructure spending occurs at the provincial and municipal levels, according to the PBO.


SSCNF chair Larry Smith’s main concern revolves around the alignment from the federal government to the provincial and municipal governments for coordinating infrastructure spending.

“We’re trying to find out the interaction between Infrastructure Canada and the other departments that deal with infrastructure,” Smith said. “We’re trying to understand the connection between the provinces, the municipalities, and the federal government to see where the execution and results are at.

“There has to be that alignment so you’re not getting people going in different directions,” Smith said. He likens the situation to a business, as if the three levels of government were three levels within a company, with the federal government at the top and the municipal governments at the bottom. All have to be on the same page.

“Everybody [all levels of government] has their own environmental assessment program, everybody’s got their own approvals regime,” Gamble said. “We’ve got to reduce the duplication [between jurisdictions].”

There has to be that alignment.

— Senator Larry Smith , Chair, Standing Senate Committee on National Finance

Engineers need to have consistency and predictability with respect to the infrastructure investments in order to manage their resources and meet the demands of the “fairly significant infrastructure program,” said Gamble.

“Frankly, it’s a bottom-line issue for our firms,” he said.

Gamble said the ACEC has actually seen a decline in membership since the end of the $8.8 billion Building Canada Fund wrapped up in 2014. This seems counterintuitive given the record-size infrastructure investments from the current and prior federal governments.

Tightening the Process

Another issue is that many of the departments doling out infrastructure funding are not used to reporting on it for public consumption. Most of the PBO’s data was collected in September and October 2016, but data from Infrastructure Canada is current to Jan. 4.

Even the classification of infrastructure includes a lot of pre-existing programs such as repairs of buildings.

“What I hate to see is projects that aren’t really infrastructure dressed up as infrastructure because, 1) it will distract badly needed investments from infrastructure, and 2) we don’t clog up the process,” Gamble said. The last thing he wants to see is increased delays and bureaucracy.

A red flag raised by the PBO is that the government does not have a performance measurement framework to evaluate the impact of the money spent. It’s not clear to the PBO how many projects go through rigorous cost-benefit analyses.

The PBO said it is well positioned to measure economic impacts with the help of Statistics Canada; however, it is less well positioned to look at longer-term productivity benefits and how projects are selected.

For now, Fréchette said, “The impact will be smaller than what was expected in the budget—smaller because they will not be able to spend the full $3 billion [$3.967 billion] this year.” The PBO estimates the boost to the economy (real gross domestic product) will be 0.06 percent less and 5,000 less for employment than what was forecast in Budget 2016 (0.17 percent and 8,300 jobs).

“Our job is to make sure that the execution and the measurements are actually done and recorded. At the end of the day, we have to have results because that’s the major platform of the government,” Smith said. The SSCNF will release its initial report in the next three to four weeks.

Fréchette and others can’t really comment on how the new infrastructure bank might ameliorate the process. The federal government hasn’t released further details on it since November’s fall fiscal update, which included its creation. “The concept is there to help in the choices [of projects], which is the big concern for Parliament—the outcome of all these projects,” Fréchette said.

Gamble still believes infrastructure is a core business of government and that the new bank alongside public-private partnerships are simply more tools in the toolbox


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Baloney Meter: have more than 60% of infrastructure projects begun?

Sometimes the same set of numbers can tell very different stories

By Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press Posted: Feb 09, 2017 9:10 AM ET| Last Updated: Feb 09, 2017 9:10 AM ET

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says more than 60 per cent of infrastructure projects are underway and creating jobs, but does the claim hold up?

"We have approved more than 1,200 projects. I would like to tell the member that more than 60 per cent of those projects are currently underway, creating opportunities for Canadians."

— Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, Feb. 7.

There is a saying that numbers do not lie, but sometimes — especially in politics — the same set of numbers can end up telling very different stories.

Consider the case of an exchange between Conservative MP Diane Watts and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Watts, who represents the B.C. riding of South Surrey — White Rock, stood up to ask about some numbers the federal government had shared through its online open data portal — that construction had not yet started on 96 per cent of the infrastructure projects the Liberal government had announced.

"Announcements do not create jobs," said Watts.

Sohi first responded with some high-level platitudes about how yes, their infrastructure investments were creating jobs and doing other wonderful things for the middle class, but then he provided a very different percentage of projects that have started construction.

"More than 60 per cent of those projects are currently underway, creating opportunities for Canadians."

So, who was right? Watts, with her 96 per cent? Or Sohi, with his 60 per cent?

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of "no baloney" to "full of baloney" (complete methodology below).

Sohi's statement earns a ranking of "a little baloney," — even though, in their own ways, both politicians were right.

Read on to find out why.

The facts

To add to the confusion, the Conservatives and Sohi arrived at their conflicting conclusions while working with the same data set — a list of projects nationwide that have been approved by Infrastructure Canada, which is available online.

The Conservatives say they arrived at their numbers by taking all the projects the Liberals have approved since the 2016 budget and then calculating how many of them have, according to the data, already begun construction.

That would be 48 projects, or only four per cent of the total.

Brook Simpson, a spokesman for Sohi, said the minister was including all the projects he approved since the Liberal government was sworn in, because even if some were already in the pipeline under pre-existing programs, they were approved by the new government.

That brings the number of approved projects to 1,270.

The more important difference, though, is that Sohi was not looking at actual construction dates, but at forecasted construction start dates.

That figure shows that 797 of the 1,270 projects — amounting to nearly 63 per cent — were due to have begun by now.

Infrastructure Rail 20160113
Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Ottawa Mayor Jiim Watson, left, tour the site of a future light rail transit station in Ottawa last year. Construction on the LRT had begun under the Conservative government. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Simpson said they were relying on forecasted construction start dates because the actual construction start dates are updated too long after the fact to be useful at this point.

That is because in most cases, the province or territory that signed the agreement to receive the funding has six months to report on its progress.

"In most cases now, we haven't hit the six months yet," Simpson said.

Some of the reporting might take even longer than that.

The Canadian Press was able to find more than 250 examples of projects approved through one of the two new infrastructure funds the Liberals brought in with the 2016 budget — the clean water and wastewater fund and the public transit infrastructure fund — that did not mention an actual construction start date, even though the six-month reporting timeline and the forecasted construction start date have already come and gone.

"With the federal government owning only two per cent of infrastructure across the country, we rely on our partners to submit reporting on progress and we are working with them to ensure they do so in a timely manner," Simpson wrote in an email responding to follow-up questions.

"When agreements are signed, we trust that the start dates submitted by our partners will be adhered to and historically this has been the case for (Infrastructure Canada) projects," he wrote.

"Reporting can take time — especially for smaller communities — and our provincial/territorial partners need to gather information from their municipalities before it is submitted to us," he wrote.

He does not expect any big surprises.

"All of these are signed and official agreements and there is every reason to believe that they are starting as they said they would."

What the experts say

Clark Somerville, the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, said the federal government was right to calculate things this way.

"The progress reporting coming out of Infrastructure Canada is the best we've seen yet, using local data about forecasted construction timelines," Somerville wrote in an emailed statement.

Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, said the information could be useful as a leading indicator of where things are headed.

But he also said there is confusion because of the start dates debate and because the Liberals are including projects that fell under pre-existing infrastructure programs brought in by the Conservative government — amounting to about $3.3 billion of the $5.9 billion total in federal contributions for those approved projects.

"Naturally, political people, they want to present the most positive numbers," said Page, who is now president and CEO of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at the University of Ottawa.

He pointed out that the current parliamentary budget officer released his report last week saying that of the $13.6 billion in infrastructure money announced in the 2016 budget — and slated to be spent through March 2018 — departments have only identified $4.6 billion worth of projects.

"The data that people need to see is: is money flowing on these projects? Are shovels being turned over? Is there real construction activity going on? Is there additional employment happening in construction industries, and other industries, because of this?" Page said.

"A more powerful indicator will be the percentage of projects that have been completed, so we have a sense that money is actually really being put into the economy."

The verdict

As Simpson explained, Sohi was talking about forecasted construction start dates when he asserted that more than 60 per cent of the projects approved are underway, which is a technically accurate counterpoint to the technical point that Watt had based her question on.

Still, as Page pointed out, it does not provide the full picture to the spirit in which her question was asked, which went on to focus on when the rest of the money would flow.

For these reasons, Sohi's statement scores a rating of "a little baloney."


The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:

No baloney — the statement is completely accurate.

A little baloney — the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required.

Some baloney — the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing.

A lot of baloney — the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth.

Full of baloney — the statement is completely inaccurate


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( there may not be many actual projects but there is fancy new signs coming to them , under the reasoning anything harper did was bad , the liberals decided new signs were needed that were not called the economic action plan )

Feb 17, 2017 | Vote 0 0

Liberals let loose new infrastructure ads

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are trying to tune out the temptation to inject partisanship into advertising on their vaunted infrastructure program with new signs that have more green, blue and orange in them than red.

Communities across the country receiving federal cash to make their infrastructure dreams a reality will be able to put up the new signs starting Friday.

The Liberals hope the signs signal a departure from the problematic ads the previous Conservative government placed nationwide that drew the ire of the then-opposition Liberals.

About 5,000 of the Conservative government's "economic action plan" signs went up between 2009 and 2015 on projects overseen by Infrastructure Canada, with an unknown number still standing.

The new signs have the name of the project, the total cost, the start and end dates, as well as a slogan explaining why the project is taking place such as "modern, secure and efficient ports and shipping," or "increased urban transit options, greener cities."

The information is placed on one of three backgrounds for an urban, rural or northern project.

The logo of each funding partner is on the bottom of the sign.

"We are committed to openness and transparency and this signage approach is an efficient way to inform Canadians on where and how government dollars are being invested in their communities," said Kate Monfette, a spokeswoman for Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

Government officials spent months consulting provincial and territorial counterparts on the design of the new signs.

The goal was to craft something that everyone could be happy with and which suggested that everyone was an equal partner in a project, even if the federal government footed most of the bill.

The new signs are similar to those the Tories put up, in that they tout government spending, are "self-congratulatory" and have no real purpose other than "demonstrating government largesse," said Jonathan Rose, a political scientist at Queen's University who specializes in political communication.

Signs should inform citizens about how their tax dollars are spent and which level of government is spending what, said Rose, who has advised the Ontario auditor general's office in its oversight role over partisan provincial government advertising. There could have also been a link on the sign so passersby could easily look for more information about a project, Rose said.

"Governments need to be careful about understanding the appropriate limits of using taxpayers' dollars for advertising that seems to be only in their self interest. Before advertising, there needs to be a clear policy reason to do so," he said.

The new signs won't stay up forever — they have to be removed within 30 days of project completion —and the signage guidelines gently suggest that physical signs may not be suitable in all locations or for all projects.

There is an option of using digital signage on Twitter, Facebook, or screens inside buildings.

Monfette said project proponents will make the final call about whether to erect a sign.

Much like the earlier economic action plan signs, the new infrastructure signs will be eligible project expenses, meaning the federal government will cover up to half of their cost.

The signs themselves are estimated to cost between $250 and $700 each, not including installation.

By Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PBO says Liberal spending estimates short $2.5B on infrastructure

Canadian Press

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Frechette. iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood

The parliamentary budget watchdog says it can’t find billions in new infrastructure spending that is supposed to be in key federal spending projections released earlier this month.

The main spending estimates for the next 12 months were supposed to include $8 billion in new infrastructure spending, but a report this morning from parliamentary budget officer Jean-Denis Frechette says the documents only show $5.5 billion in infrastructure allocations.

The report lists multiple reasons for the missing $2.5 billion, including that the Liberals may defer some intended spending to future years.

Another reason cited in the report is that the spending estimates are presented in such a complicated way that Frechette’s office couldn’t find the money.

The report is the latest in a series of studies from the PBO that have raised critical questions about the infrastructure program that is supposed to be a pillar of the government’s economic growth strategy.

The report predicts that the Liberals will only be able to spend half of their planned federal infrastructure money this fiscal year.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I am concerned, this pretty much establishes that the Liberals had no idea of what economic policy they were promoting during the last election campaign. They just steered towards the 'sweet spot', saying what they needed to say to come out on top. They had no idea exactly what black hole they were going to throw the money down -- urban transit being the only real contender -- when they shyly admitted they would go into debt, slightly, to get more economic dynamism in the economy.

The real reason they did it was to avoid being exposed as a liar on the level of Mulcair. Mulcair presented a 'costed out' version of the lies ... er, promises ... he was pledging the party to, and it showed nothing so much as the NDP's deep contempt for the electorate.

That way out of their dilemma has become a fixed idea with the Liberals, who now seem to feel the cork is out of the bottle, and they can spend like drunken sailors.
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Where is the infrastructure spending promised ?

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