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Over 1,800 stimulus projects in danger of being delayed: report

The Canadian Press

A federal budget report cautions that more than 1,800 projects worth $500 million in federal stimulus funds are in danger of being delayed.

More than $500 billion might not get spent, parliamentary budget officer warns

A federal budget report cautions that more than 1,800 projects worth $500 million in federal stimulus funds are in danger of being delayed.

Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page has found that more than half a billion dollars of the $4 billion stimulus fund is in danger of not getting spent before the government’s stimulus project deadline of March 31, 2011.

According to Page’s report, a mid-case scenario would see 936 projects unfinished by the deadline resulting in $293-million or 7.3 per cent of infrastructure stimulus money not being spent.

The worst-case scenario of 1,814 projects missing the deadline would result in $500-million in stimulus funds lapsing.

Planned spending profiles and progress benchmarks suggest not all stimulus projects will be completed by the spring 2011 deadline, Page found.

“PBO analysis has identified a noticeable delay in project start and end dates against the original projections,” the report noted. “This trend highlights potential risks to ISF (Infrastructure Stimulus Fund) program outcomes, including projects not being completed at the March 31, 2011 deadline and a potential lapse of program spending authorities.”

As of March 31, 24.5 per cent of stimulus projects had been completed (up from 17.3 per cent at the end of the previous December) and the value of completed work was $1.087 billion. More than $800 million is on track to be spent in each of July, August and September 2010.

The report also noted that one of the risks of the stimulus plan’s outcomes is that a delay of infrastructure activity and spending may have an impact on construction, engineering, architecture and trade industries.

“The PBO is continuing research in these areas and attempting to identify the nature and severity of potential impacts,” the report noted.

Ottawa has been steadfast in stating it will not extend the stimulus fund deadline under any circumstances despite organizations, like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, urging them to consider some flexibility. Project work has been slowed down by permit acquisition, availability of materials, local decision-making or bad weather, advocates for a deadline extension have said.

The Canadian Construction Association has not asked for an extension of the deadline but for flexibility on a case-by-case basis.

-DCN News Services

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