Ontario, Quebec premiers call on Ottawa to boost infrastructure funding
Meeting comes ahead of all-premiers' conference next week in Charlottetown
Ontario and Quebec are calling on the federal government to increase its share of infrastructure funding to respond to the slower rate of economic recovery and job creation in Eastern Canada.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in Quebec City today ahead of next week's Council of the Federation conference in Charlottetown.
"The federal government's refusal to work with us and partner with us particularly on infrastructure has the possibility of holding Canada's economy back.
"But we can't let that hold us back as premiers," Wynne said.
Couillard said while he welcomed the federal government's 10-year, $53-billion Building Canada Plan, it doesn't go far enough.
He said Quebec and Ontario each spend roughly three per cent of their gross domestic product on infrastructure but that historically it's been five per cent.
"There's room to top up the infrastructure investment," Couillard said.
Wynne reiterated her call for Ottawa to quadruple the amount of federal dollars it directs to infrastructure spending.
Ottawa currently spends about half a per cent of Canada's gross domestic product on infrastructure, and if it were up to Wynne that amount would go up to two per cent of GDP, or about $30 billion a year.
A spokeswoman for Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel defended Ottawa's infrastructure investments saying in an email to CBC News the "New Building Canada Plan provides provinces, territories and municipalities with significant, long-term and predictable funding."
Wynne and Couillard also talked about the need for a Canadian energy strategy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing internal trade between the two provinces.
They agreed to create a joint group of ministers responsible for the environment and climate change, and committed to holding a joint cabinet meeting in Toronto before the end of the year.
Wynne said she hopes Harper will come around to meeting with the premiers as a group to discuss a wide range of federal-provincial issues. The last first ministers meeting was held in 2009.
Next week's meeting of Canada's 13 provincial and territorial leaders will take place Aug. 26 to 30 in the P.E.I. capital.