PEI

DFO leaving nearly $1B unspent is 'appalling'

Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay says the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans leaving $950 million unspent is 'appalling' and the money should have been used to benefit P.E.I. programs.

What MP Lawrence MacAulay calls 'unspent' is 'carry-forward' funds, says Fisheries Minister Gail Shea

Cardigan MP and Liberal fisheries critic Lawrence MacAulay says last year more than $173 million of DFO's budget wasn't used. (CBC)

Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay says the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans leaving $950 million unspent is 'appalling' and the money should have been used to benefit P.E.I. programs.

The money hasn't been used since the Progressive Conservatives came to power in 2006, says MacAulay, who is also Liberal fisheries critic.

In 2013-2014 alone, more than $173 million of the budget wasn't used, he says.

To have near a billion dollars not spent over the last number of years in DFO is appalling when we look at the situation and the need for funding across Prince Edward Island.- Lawrence MacAulay

The information was contained in government's response to a question he recently tabled in the House of Commons, he says.

It's unacceptable that money allocated to the department was not being spent, when vital programs in the department were being cut, says MacAulay.

"Well, I believe it's a general trend in government, really, you know, you make announcements and then you don't spend them," said MacAulay.

"Really, to have near a billion dollars not spent over the last number of years in DFO is appalling when we look at the situation and the need for funding across Prince Edward Island.

Lapse funding

However, federal Fisheries Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea says that's not accurate and MacAulay should know how the budget process works since he was once a cabinet minister.

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea the money is spent, just not in the original time frame. (CBC)
She says the money is called lapse funding and is actually carried over into the next year. This allows departments to manage unexpected delays of approved expenses.

"There are carry-forward amounts every year which every department has," said Shea.

"We have projects that are not completed on time for any given reason and they carry forward into the next year. So this money actually ends up being spent, just not spent in the same time frame as the plan had been."

Shea also says if a project comes in under budget, that money is not spent.

She notes there have been major investments by DFO in recent years that have benefited Prince Edward Island.