The federal government is giving itself a good role, by repeating that the “point” is to assume its share of the tramway project’s cost overruns, despite making no real commitment in this direction, condemns Genevieve Guilbault.
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“I’m surprised we don’t have more interest in an effective federal commitment to the project,” the transport minister said at a press conference in Quebec on Friday morning.
“Because when you hear the federal government say: “We’re there”, [je me demande,] First, what does this mean? And secondly, on what date?” she asked herself.
Last week, federal Liberal Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said governments were “interested in giving clear signals” of support for the tramway.
The reality is that Ottawa has only committed to financing the tramway to the tune of $1.2 billion, a 2019 commitment that was originally supposed to cost $3.3 billion.
Since then, the costs have increased significantly and we are now talking about an 8.4 billion bill for the megaproject.
The Quebec government continues to ask the federal government to cover the 40% cost, but nothing has been signed so far, Mr.me Guilbault, however, was frustrated by the situation. “I’m not saying they won’t say yes, but as of today, we don’t have confirmation,” she said.
Because of this, Quebec Mayor Bruno Marchand said he doesn’t understand how the transportation minister can say he has a guarantee that the federal government will pay its share of the bill.
“When the mayor of Quebec said that the federal government is committed, I don’t know what he’s talking about. We’re in direct negotiations with the federal government. So we know what it’s like in real life. In real life, it’s 1.2 billion confirmed,” she said.
Ottawa’s participation at this stage is more uncertain because there is currently not much money in the federal envelope used to finance infrastructure, Ms.me Guilbault.
“The next infrastructure envelope is planned for 2026, so we have three years there…” she trailed off before insisting she plans to speak to federal infrastructure minister Sean Fraser on the matter.