MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“$7.43M Gas Tax Payment to Local Municipalities Arrives Early”
After a tough winter our local roads can end up in pretty rough shape.  Thanks to swift action and investment by our Conservative Government, communities across Canada are getting significant help to meet these challenges, and they’re getting it sooner.
As of April 1st, our government has doubled the amount of money Canadian municipalities receive from the Gas Tax Fund to $2-billion and we’ve accelerated the first installment of that payment, making funds available to municipalities almost three months early.
Cities, towns, villages and districts in Prince George-Peace River will collectively receive $7.43-million in 2009.
At a time when our municipalities are feeling the effects of lower tax revenues due to the global economic downturn, this increased, accelerated and permanent funding will provide more opportunities to create local jobs, boost sales for local businesses and improve the quality of life for families in our region.
Here in the North our focus has been, and will continue to be, to get shovels in the ground the minute the frost comes out of the ground.  So the sooner we can get Gas Tax payments into the hands of local governments, the sooner they can move forward on important local projects.
Two years ago, our government announced the 7-year, $33 billion Building Canada Plan, which helps build and revitalize infrastructure across Canada. The Gas Tax Fund is the largest component of this plan and provides municipalities with funding for road building and maintenance, and other infrastructure projects.
Last year, we made the Gas Tax Fund permanent. Now, municipalities have the stable, long-term funding they have asked for to be able to plan for future projects.  In January, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced Canada’s Economic Action Plan, which doubles these payments through 2014 and beyond.
Overall, throughout the next two years, an additional $12 billion is being invested in roads, bridges, water systems, sewage treatment facilities and other infrastructure projects designed to help kick-start our economy.
Gas Tax payments are delivered on behalf of the Government of Canada by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).  It is through partnerships like the one we share with UBCM that we will help our local economies through these tough times and ensure our region is positioned to be among the first to take advantage of the economic opportunities that will come again.
The key to success for our Conservative Government’s Economic Action Plan is the power of cooperation.  This not only requires cooperation with the federal opposition parties, but with the 13 provincial and territorial governments and with thousands more municipal governments and other partners like UBCM.
I’ve always considered myself especially fortunate as a Member of Parliament to know that I can count upon the advise, counsel, collaboration and support of my provincial and municipal colleagues, the MLAs, mayors, councillors and regional directors that represent your interests.
Together we will continue to strengthen B.C.’s economy, invest in our communities to meet this global economic challenge, protect the jobs of today as best we can, while ensuring we seize the opportunities to create the jobs of tomorrow.