Canada's Liberal government on Monday made clear it will not announce whether it plans to help struggling plane maker Bombardier Inc before the March 22 federal budget.
The province of Quebec – where the firm has its headquarters — unveiled a $1 billion investment in the company's CSeries passenger jet last October and wants Ottawa to do the same to help protect thousands of well-paid jobs
Montreal's La Presse newspaper last month ran an interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and quoted him as saying an announcement on aid would be made before the budget.
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Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who has direct responsibility for the file, said on Monday this was not the case.
"We want to make sure we're very thoughtful and doing our homework. Of course, any decision we make is not attached to the budget cycle," he told reporters in Toronto, saying his officials were making progress.
"We've been very engaged with the company, we've been making sure we're doing our due diligence ... it is a very complex issue," he added.
Quebec wants the federal government to agree to a separate board for the new CSeries jet program, eroding the influence of the company's founding family, two sources familiar with the matter said late last month.
Asked about the idea, Bains relied: "All options are part of the business case evaluation that we're looking at."
Neither Bombardier nor the Quebec government was immediately available for comment.
The decision is a complicated one for the ruling Liberals, who won an election last October in part thanks to an unexpectedly large haul of Parliamentary seats in Quebec. Keeping those seats is central to the Liberals' hopes of retaining power in the 2019 election.
Ottawa is also under pressure from western energy-producing provinces, whose leaders say they need federal help to deal with economies that have been badly hit by a slump in crude oil prices.