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Feds, Ont. commit $6.2B to boost province's infrastructure

Last Updated: Thursday, July 24, 2008 | 12:03 PM ET

The federal and Ontario governments have signed a deal that commits $6.2 billion for roads, bridges, broadband internet and other infrastructure improvements in the province over the next six years.

Lawrence Cannon, federal minister of transport, infrastructure and communities, announced Thursday morning that the federal government will provide $3.09 billion of that money under Building Canada, a national plan launched in November, and Ontario will match the funding, which will be distributed through to 2014.

“A modern infrastructure is key to provide essential services to Canadians such as clean drinking water, clean air and green energy, modern roads, bridges and overpasses, strong borders and congestion solutions,” Cannon said at a news conference in London, Ont., that was also attended by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Ontario Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman.

Cannon indicated the money was also intended to boost the struggling Ontario economy, which shrank 0.3 per cent during the first quarter, according to provincial government figures.

“We are ensuring … all Ontarians a more competitive economy, stronger communities, a cleaner environment and a more prosperous Ontario,” Cannon said.

Smitherman said the investment in Ontario’s infrastructure is “much needed” and the deal “has been a long time coming.”

Priorities for the new infrastructure money include:

* Improvements on Highway 11/17 from Thunder Bay to the Manitoba border.
* Expanding rural broadband internet coverage in southern and eastern Ontario.
* Rapid transit in the Waterloo region.

Most of the money will go toward large-scale projects, but $362 million has been reserved for projects in communities of less than 100,000 people.




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