I'm here today to deliver three messages. First, Canada's economic action plan is a model for how governments can work together to meet national challenges. The plan established very clear national objectives and brought federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments together to achieve them. We should apply the same principles to longer-term national challenges, everything from traffic gridlock to homelessness.
The second message is this: when there are challenges in completing projects, governments must continue working together in the best interests of Canadians. We expect the stimulus plan to stay on track and the vast majority of projects to remain on schedule. When delays, as were mentioned, are caused by forces beyond a community's control, governments need to use common sense to make sure the project is finished and costs are shared fairly.
Finally, our biggest concern about the economic action plan is what happens after it's gone. Stimulus spending will end, but the underlying partnership must continue to grow.
A year and a half ago, Canada was plunged into a recession by the global economic crisis, and governments had to work together to take swift and decisive action. In January 2009 the federal government released its economic action plan, and today that plan is delivering the largest ever one-time injection of federal funds into Canada's cities and communities.
The federal government designed its economic action plan to provide a dramatic but temporary boost to Canada's economy, increasing public investments for a short period while the private sector recovered from the global economic crisis. While the government has stood by its stimulus deadline, it has shown flexibility in response to concerns brought forward by FCM. Initially the government said it would not pay for stimulus projects that were not fully completed by March 31, 2011. This meant that on a cost-shared project, a municipality could end up paying the full cost of construction if any part of the project was not finished on time. The government revised its position and agreed to pay its full share of project costs incurred before the stimulus deadline, regardless of whether the entire project was complete. Of course, this took the threat of 100% clawback of federal funding off the table.
Now the priority for all orders of government is to create as many jobs and complete as many projects as possible during the next 10 months. Governments must continue working together to move the country forward towards full economic recovery. Municipalities are working flat out to finish stimulus projects by March 2011, and according to Infrastructure Canada, virtually all stimulus projects are on schedule. That's good news.
In cases in which there are challenges in specific communities, all governments need to use common sense. If a delay is caused by something outside a municipality's control, as in the examples you heard, then federal, provincial, and territorial governments should work with the municipality to finish the project and share the costs fairly.
Municipal stimulus projects are governed by separate funding agreements in each province and territory. These agreements were signed at different points during the past year and delivered funding through different programs. Some provinces and territories took longer to sign on to the plan than others. FCM is in ongoing dialogue with the federal government and provincial, territorial, and municipal associations. If there are signs that the stimulus deadline poses a substantial risk to job creation or the completion of infrastructure projects, we'll call on all governments to come together to revisit the issue. Of course, our biggest concern about the economic action plan is what happens after it's gone.
For more than a generation, governments looked the other way as Canada's cities and communities fell into disrepair. Cracks formed in Canada's core infrastructure and transportation networks, hurting our economy and quality of life.