Committing federal dollars to a secondary sewage-treatment plant in the region wont stop the flow of infrastructure cash to Victoria, according to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
The finance minister was in Victoria on Friday to meet with business and community leaders in the first of a series of talks across the country ahead of the 2013 budget.
The governments top priorities in the face of a fragile global economy remain jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, Flaherty said before entering formal discussions at the Inn at Laurel Point on Victorias Inner Harbour.
Our government will not engage in dangerous and new risky spending schemes, Flaherty said.
We will not engage in endless spending to increase deficits, and we will not increase the tax burden for Canadians.
Asked if the new restraint combined with the $253.4 million the federal government has already committed to the regions $783-million secondary sewage plant would deprive Victoria of further funds, Flaherty said municipalities will continue to see infrastructure funding.
We do intend to have a continuing infrastructure program for our municipalities focusing on economic infrastructure that is infrastructure that produces jobs and growth.
That will continue, said Flaherty, who brushed aside rumours that he is planning to step down after the 2013 budget is tabled.
The size of the infrastructure program will be subject to more discussions with municipalities in the next year, he said.
The current Building Canada fund doesnt expire until 2014, and $6 billion in committed funding is still expected to flow from that fund over the next year, Flaherty said.
In the meantime, we have made the gas-tax transfer [to municipalities] permanent. Together with the GST rebate back to municipalities, that totals
$3 billion a year, he said.
In a brief speech that mirrored an address made to the Toronto Board of Trade on Nov. 22, the finance minister said the government hopes to balance the budget by the end of this Parliament in 2015.
The governments drive to balance the budget does not mean there wont be any new initiatives or reallocation of resources, Flaherty said.
There just wont be any big, large multibillion-dollar spending initiatives which would create a structural deficit for Canada.
Flaherty said he wants to hear from Canadians as part of pre-budget roundtable discussions around the country.
I want to discuss real workable ideas on how to solidify our economic recovery, and position Canada to compete and prosper over the long term while preserving our fiscal advantage, he said.
The finance minister is asking Canadians to suggest concrete actions to strengthen the economy and further private-sector growth. Those suggestions can be made online at fin.gc.ca under pre-budget consultations.
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