New Infrastructure Plan Featured in Budget 2013

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced Budget 2013 in Ottawa earlier today. The budget is framed by three major themes: skills, infrastructure and economic development. Budget 2013 includes details on a new Building Canada Plan, which includes:

· Indexing of the Gas Tax Fund at 2% annually;

· More flexibility in the projects eligible through the Gas Tax Fund; and

· A renewal of the Building Canada Fund at existing levels over ten years.

“Budget 2013 delivers key priorities that have been identified by UBCM's membership, including an index and broader eligibility within the permanent Gas Tax Fund,” said UBCM President Mary Sjostrom. “By extending the Building Canada Fund for an additional 10 years, the federal government has signaled that it will continue to play a significant part in funding community infrastructure.”

Budget details of particular importance to local government include the following:

Infrastructure

The Building Canada Plan will include the Gas Tax Fund, a renewed Building Canada Fund and a continuation of the GST rebate.

Gas Tax Fund

· The Gas Tax Fund will be indexed at 2% annually.

· The scope of eligible projects will be broadened to include highways, local and regional airports, short-line rail, short-sea shipping, disaster mitigation, broadband and connectivity, brownfield redevelopment, culture, tourism, sport, and recreation.

· Life-cycle assessments and asset management plans will be encouraged but not mandatory.

· The Government of Canada will conclude new Gas Tax Fund agreements before the end of current agreements on March 31, 2014.

GST Rebate

· The GST rebate will continue as per the current program, and has been combined along with the Gas Tax Fund to form the “Community Improvement Fund” to acknowledge this federal transfer to communities. This change is to provide greater visibility for this transfer.

Building Canada Fund (BCF)

· The Building Canada Fund is renewed for 10 years with a built in review after 5 years to consider improvement or expansion.

P3 Canada Fund

· This program is renewed at $1.25 billion over five years.

Economic Development

· The creation of a Canada Job Grant that will connect skills training with employers and jobs for Canadians. The Grant will be introduced by negotiating renewal of the $500 million per year Labour Market Agreements with the provinces and territories in 2014-15.

· $225 million to expand and extend the temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business for one year.

· Starting in 2014-15, $92 million over two years to the forestry sector in support of its transformation to higher-value activities and its expansion into new export markets.

· $57.5 million over five years to enhance regulatory certainty for the aquaculture sector.

· $33.1 million in 2013-14 to extend the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Initiative.

First Nations

· Approximately $7 billion over 10 years in infrastructure such as roads, bridges, energy systems and other First Nations infrastructure priorities.

· $241 million over five years to improve the on-reserve Income Assistance Program for First Nations skills training.

· $9 million over two years to expand the First Nations Land Management Regime to create opportunities for economic development on reserves.

· $52 million over two years to enhance health services for First Nations and Inuit.

Housing:

· Investment of $119 million per year over five years for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy using a “Housing First” approach.

· $253 million per year over five years to renew the Investment in Affordable Housing.

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