How the Economic Action Plan works

The auditor general devoted part of her Oct. 26, 2010, report on government spending to how it handed out grants under its Economic Action Plan. We look at the rules for applicants for some of those programs.

Criteria for qualifying projects

The federal government brought down a budget on Jan. 27, 2009, that was titled Canada's Economic Action Plan. It outlined major spending increases and tax cuts that were designed to counter the effects of a worldwide recession.

Economic Action Plan: At a glance

Projects committed to: 23,000

Map of projects 

Fiscal year 2009

  • Federal commitment: $27.9 billion.
  • Provincial commitment:  $8.6 billion.
  • Total committed: $36.5 billion.

Fiscal year 2010

  • Federal commitment: $19.3 billion.
  • Provincial commitment: $6.1 billion.
  • Total commitment: $25.4 billion

Total two-year commitment: $62 billion

  • Federal share: $47.2 billion.
  • Provincial share: $14.5 billion.

Breakdown of major programs:

  • Infrastructure: $16 billion.
  • Support to industries and communities: $14 billion, including $9.7 billion for auto sector.
  • Enhancing EI: $7 billion.
  • Tax cuts: $6.2 billion.
  • Universities, labs, research and technology: $4 billion

Amount spent on advertising the Economic Action Plan: $50 million

Key in the budget was a two-year commitment of $62 billion in spending that was supposed to help jump-start the economy. Almost $15 billion of that incentive would come from provincial coffers.

Programs ranged from fixing highways and upgrading hockey rinks to updating social housing units. Qualifying for stimulus funding varied from program to program, but Ottawa set a deadline of March 31, 2011, for projects to be completed in order to qualify for funding. In December 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended that to Oct. 31, 2011, in order to let municipalities complete worthwhile projects.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser gave the government high marks for its handling of the program in her October 2010 report.

Here's a summary of what you had to show under a few of those programs.

Social housing 

Amount: $1 billion, consisting of $850 million for existing social housing projects administered by provinces and territories and $150 million for existing social housing units directly funded and administered by CMHC.

Criteria for provincial and territorial projects:

  • Must already receive annual federal funding. 
  • Province or territory must pick up 50 per cent of the bill. 
  • Province or territory responsible for program design and delivery. 
  • Money to be used to repair existing structures and to help them meet modern energy and accessibility standards.

Criteria for units funded and administered by CMHC:

  • This initiative will help address the demand for renovation, general improvement, energy efficiency upgrade or conversion, regeneration and modifications for persons with disabilities. 
  • Applicants must have the capacity to undertake work quickly and must meet all other program eligibility criteria. 
  • Housing units must be off-reserve, federally funded and subject to an operating agreement under a National Housing Act social housing program.

Recreational infrastructure fund 

Amount: $500 million to build and renew community recreation facilities across Canada, including arenas, tennis and basketball courts, swimming pools, parks, bike paths, fitness trails and "other multi-purpose facilities that have physical recreation as their primary rationale.


  • Projects must be ready for construction. 
  • Construction must be complete by March 31, 2011. In December 2010, the deadline was extended to the end of October 2011.
  • Funding must be split among the federal government (33 per cent of eligible costs) and other project stakeholders such as provincial or municipal governments, community organizations and the private sector. 
  • Federal share could be up to 50 per cent under exceptional circumstances. 
  • Maximum federal outlay for any project is limited to $1 million. 
  • Facilities must be owned by a local or regional government, a provincial or territorial entity, First Nations, counties, community organizations or not-for-profit private sector entities.

Targeted initiative for older workers 

Amount: $60 million over three years (ending March 31, 2012) to augment $160 million committed in previous budgets.

Criteria to fund programs:

  • Provinces and territories must share costs. 
  • Provinces and territories design and deliver programs aimed at unemployed older workers in communities experiencing ongoing high unemployment and/or with a high reliance on a single industry affected by downsizing or closures.

Criteria for participants: 

  • Must be aged 55 to 64 (in some circumstances, unemployed workers aged 50 to 54 or 65 and over may participate). 
  • Must be unemployed. 
  • Must be legally entitled to work in Canada. 
  • Must require new or enhanced skills to successfully transition into new employment. 
  • Must live in an eligible community.

Infrastructure Stimulus Fund 

Amount: $4-billion stimulus fund for the rehabilitation or construction of provincial, territorial, municipal and community infrastructure projects for the 2009 and 2010 construction seasons. Work must be complete by Oct. 31, 2011.

Criteria include:

  • Federal government will supply up to 50 per cent of funding for projects, 33.3 per cent if the project involves local government or non-profit sector assets and 25 per cent if the project involves private sector assets. 
  • Project recipients must show that the project would not have been completed by March 31, 2011, without the help of the stimulus fund. 
  • Project must be construction-ready. 
  • Project must be from an approved category including highways, local roads, regional transit, brownfield redevelopment, water and wastewater infrastructure, airport infrastructure, municipal buildings, temporary housing shelters, among others.