Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, witnesses, for coming today.
First of all, I just want to point out some facts. I've been here six years now--in this job, four and a half--so I've had an opportunity to work with the FCM. I've found that partnership very good, and I think we've developed some good programs together with the federal government.
I see you nodding your head in agreement, so I see you're happy.
In 2007 the FCM identified that there was a $123 billion deficit in infrastructure across this country. We came forward, as a government, with a $45 billion plan to put some infrastructure back—$45 billion from the federal government, which, if you utilize three ways, includes $33 billion through Building Canada and Canada's economic action plan and the stimulus fund.
I notice that you're questioning the $45 billion, but if you add it all up, it's $45 billion--for sure the most money ever spent by a federal government in the history of our country to revitalize infrastructure. In fact, if you times that by three, which is the idea of all of the programs, you have, funnily enough, enough money to cover the entire deficit that the FCM identified. So I'm not surprised that you're very happy with this federal government.
I think it's clear; we've talked about the purpose of this particular fund, which is, I might remind members, less than 10% of the entire infrastructure money. It's $4 billion, so we're talking about less than 10%. And if 10% of the projects have some sort of shortfall, or you don't have enough money, or they aren't completed in time, that's less than 1%.
I just want to remind everybody of the big picture here. This is a federal government that came forward with $41 billion in money outside of the infrastructure money. We're here today talking about less than 10% of that fund, and less than 10% of that, really, is an issue, in my mind. I just want to point that out.
You see, representing governments in northern Alberta... As you mentioned, northern Alberta has a lot more challenges than most communities across this country. We have no employees; we have nobody who can do the work, in essence, in northern Alberta. You have to get them from somewhere else.
We have some of the worst weather across this country. We have a lot of problems getting material that's reasonably priced. Yet I have no complaints from my constituents.
Now, maybe you do, Mr. Carlton, but...
I have a mayor who told me over a year ago, “Listen, I'm not going to apply for that, because I can't get it. I can't do it in time.” So now I'm going to go back to that mayor and tell him, “Well, you could have applied for that. You could have applied for it. You didn't need to get it done. The FCM has come forward and said that you don't need that deadline for infrastructure stimulus.”
And it's actually a fund to stimulate an economy; it's not just to build infrastructure. I just want to make sure that's clear.
I want to talk a little bit about not just fairness but about the infrastructure stimulus fund project application. I have the application in front of me. You all have had a chance to read this, I'm sure.
First of all, it talks at the bottom about an attestation, in number 3:
I warrant that this project would not be otherwise constructed by March 31 2011, without the federal...funding requested.
It also says:
4. I understand that
(a) all costs incurred before provincial and federal approval and after March 31, 2011, are ineligible;
You didn't get the money unless you signed it. Is that right?