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Less infrastructure funding expected in Ontario Budget

There will be less spending on roads and bridges when the province’s minority Liberal government delivers its 2012 budget on March 27.

TORONTO

There will be less spending on roads and bridges when the province’s minority Liberal government delivers its 2012 budget on March 27.

With the province’s $16 billion deficit, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is expected to deliver harsh spending cuts in many areas.

“This is going to be a comprehensive, very large budget that will lay out the path to balance with some difficult choices in it,” Duncan told reporters as he announced the budget date.

“It’s going to lay the path to a much better future, and it’s going to address problems that successive governments of all political stripes have not wanted to address.”

During the recent Rural Ontario Municipal Association/Ontario Good Roads Association conference, Premier Dalton McGuinty said that Ontario cannot afford a promised fund to pay for road and bridge repairs, and the government hopes to save even more by cutting spending on other infrastructure projects in the budget.

“One of the pieces in the budget will be significant reductions in infrastructure spending in the coming years that will save us hundreds of millions of dollars in interest costs,” said Duncan.

In its 2011 budget, the province announced $35 billion of infrastructure spending over three years as part of its 10-year Building Together infrastructure plan. Many in the construction industry are waiting to see if this commitment will be adhered to and if more funding will be committed beyond the three years.

The recently released report from the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, chaired by former TD economist Don Drummond, called public infrastructure a “double-edged sword” that depreciates over time.

DCN NEWS SERVICES

With files from The Canadian Press

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