Roughly $885M allotted for capital works

Dave Bartlett
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The province’s roads, bridges, ferries and buildings will get a cash infusion of approximately $885 million, according to the provincial budget.

But that’s a decrease of more than 10 per cent from what the province spent on infrastructure last year.

In 2012, the province plans to spend $165 million on roads and bridges and just over $30 million towards ferries, wharfs and their repairs.

Also announced was $230 million in health care infrastructure, while the education sector received $115 million for new facilities and upgrades.

Finance Minister Tom Marshall told reporters Tuesday morning the province will still “aggressively build infrastructure.”

But he noted a chunk of the money — about $233 million — is  needed each year for repairs and maintenance. Another $536 million is to continue building projects previously announced.

“The major piece of it is things that started last year, the year before, and are just continuing,” he said.

That means only about $116 million is for newly announced projects.

Liberal Transportation and Works critic Eddie Joyce didn’t think much of the infrastructure investment overall.

“This is just all … old projects being announced for the third, fourth, fifth time to try and up the cost of their budget,” he told The Telegram.

Joyce also noted there’s $19 million less for road work this year compared to last year.

But the president of the province’s federation of labour said she’s pleased with what’s been announced.

“I think it’s important that we’re still (investing) in infrastructure,” said Lana Payne.

“We have a lot of needs out there and we had a lot of catching up to do.”

She said the province went almost two decades where it couldn’t invest much in infrastructure because there was no money, and there are many examples — such as schools with mould and air quality problems — which still need to be addressed.

Payne is also pleased the money which was invested in recent years came from budget surpluses.

She agreed the employment created by these capital works projects is a good thing.

According to the province, infrastructure projects announced in budget 2012 will mean 6,600 person-years of employment.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

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