Stephane Blais, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ) and the Premier of Quebec deplore the fact that cities are being deprived of $350 million that could be invested in public transit and green infrastructure, due to a new government orientation federal.
In a press release published Thursday, the UMQ asks the government to hand over an amount of $350 million to the Quebec government as planned, as stipulated in the Canada-Quebec bilateral agreement for the infrastructure program.
“On behalf of all Quebec municipalities, I ask the federal government to reconsider its position,” said the president of the UMQ and mayor of Gaspé, Daniel Côté.
The president of the UMQ misunderstands, in a context of climate emergency, “the orientation of the federal government not to transfer this sum as stipulated in the agreement”, while the federal deputies are preparing, Thursday, to leave parliament for the summer.
On the sidelines of a press conference in the afternoon, Prime Minister François Legault reacted by saying “we cannot decide at the last minute that the signed agreement” ends in 2023.
François Legault has asked Ottawa to review this decision which has “no common sense”.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who accompanied the Prime Minister on Thursday afternoon, also expressed disappointment, saying the decision will have “a major impact on Montreal” and “that for me it’s nonsense” at a time when “there is a climate emergency”.
Funds from various programs
The mayor of Candiac, Normand Dyotte, explained to The Canadian Press that “these are sales of different programs, one on public transit and there is $300 million and one for $50 million concerning water funds. used, which have not been spent for a few years”.
However, according to Mr. Dyotte, the agreement provided that “the balances which are not used be transferred to the new bilateral agreement from 2018 to 2028”.
For municipalities, “it’s important, we need investments in public transit,” added Mayor Dyotte.
In its press release, the UMQ specifies that “the federal government had undertaken to add to the amounts provided for the public transit and green infrastructure components of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, the residual amounts from the Fund for Public Transport Infrastructure (FITC) and the Fund for Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment (FEPTEU), the equivalent of $350 million. However, last May, the federal government mentioned that it no longer intended to pay this amount to the Government of Quebec, but to allocate it to the consolidated fund.
The Canadian Press has attempted to question the office of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, which is made up of MPs from all four major parties, but is awaiting an answer from them.