GORMLEY, Ont. - Prime Minister Stephen Harper lifted the veil Thursday on a $14-billion infrastructure fund that will offer provinces, cities and smaller communities access to eagerly anticipated federal money over the next 10 years.

The New Building Canada Fund, which was first announced in last year's federal budget, will be available starting this spring.

It is part of the larger $53-billion New Building Canada Plan, which also includes a Gas Tax Fund and a funding model for public-private partnerships.

"Provinces, territories and municipalities will now have unprecedented access to predictable, sustainable federal infrastructure funds for a decade," Harper said during a visit in the community of Gormley, Ont., north of Toronto.

"This will allow those whose job it is to make infrastructure decisions to plan those decisions with assurance over the long term."

Harper said his government has established a framework for the fund, which details how much money the government will give out and what kinds of projects it will invest in.

The federal infrastructure minister will now work with provinces, territories and municipalities to "seek input on outstanding parameters" such as the application process for the fund.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities greeted Harper's announcement with muted enthusiasm and said many questions remained about how the fund would be used to meet local needs.

"Municipalities own a significant majority of public infrastructure and for a fund that will span the next decade, we must be sure that it is used accordingly," said federation president Claude Dauphin. "This is the only way to ensure that local governments can address infrastructure challenges in their communities."

Dauphin added there were concerns the fund's rules could force municipalities to carry a larger share of infrastructure costs in the future and that local roads may not be eligible for cash under the fund's framework.

The New Building Canada Fund takes over from a previous similar fund which expires this spring.

The prime minister didn't go into the nitty gritty details in front of his audience on Thursday, but documents detailing the fund said $4 billion is being set aside for projects of "national significance" which are a federal priority.

The fund's remaining $10 billion has been dedicated to infrastructure and community projects in the provinces and territories — with $1 billion of that earmarked for communities with populations under 100,000.

Provincial highways, major roads and public transit were highlighted as priorities, with Ottawa promising to contribute up to half of total project costs. For most other projects, the federal government will pitch in one-third of total costs.

When a project involves the for-profit private sector, the maximum federal contribution under the fund will be 25 per cent, while the same amount will apply to projects that are public-private partnerships.

Meanwhile, projects with capital costs of more than $100 million which apply for the fund will be screened to see if they might be appropriate for public-private partnerships, something Harper said he wanted to see more of.

The New Democrats called Harper's announcement a "recycling announcement from last year."

"There's really no new funding per se," said NDP infrastructure critic Olivia Chow.

"We will continue to have traffic gridlock, mired in sinkholes, and the bridges will continue to crumble because we have a huge infrastructure deficit in this country."

Under the fund, each province and territory will receive $250 million plus a per capital amount over 10 years that is calculated based on the 2011 Census.

The funding framework means there will be a reduction in the annual average funding for most provinces and territories as they will be getting their cash over ten years rather than the seven years the fund's predecessor was spread over.

But the government said that when a Gas Tax Fund is factored in, the total annual funding will be "very similar" to what each province and territory is used to receiving.

The fund gives provinces, territories and municipalities the flexibility to decide which projects it will seek money for, but the government has put forward a list of categories eligible for cash, which include wastewater management, green energy, airports and post-secondary infrastructure that supports advanced research.

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  • Finance Minister Jim Flaherty

    "This prudent plan builds on our record of strong, sound and consistent fiscal management. It is a low-tax plan to promote jobs and economic growth and support Canadian families. And it is a common sense plan that will see Canada return to a balanced budget in 2015." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/02/11/canada-budget-2014-full-text-speech_n_4769576.html" target="_blank">Read Flaherty's full speech</a>

  • NDP Leader Tom Mulcair

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  • Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau

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  • NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash

    "Hundreds of thousands more Canadians are unemployed today than before the recession and are looking to their government for action. This budget is another Conservative disappointment."

  • Liberal Finance Critic Scott Brison

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  • Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

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  • Gregory Thomas, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

    "We're pleased and encouraged that Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty are on track to keep their election promise and balance the budget in 2014-15. "The challenge facing all parties and leaders now is to return the projected $30 billion surplus to Canadian taxpayers over the next five years, by paying down debt and reversing EI payroll tax hikes." <a href="http://taxpayer.com/?section_id=5100&section_copy_id=18201" target="_blank">Read his full statement</a>

  • Dan Kelly, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

    "Small business owners know that today’s deficits are tomorrow’s taxes, so they are pleased the government’s commitment to a balanced budget in 2015 remains solid." Kelly said CFIB gave the Olympic-year budget a bronze. <a href="http://www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/article/5937-federal-budget-gets-a-bronze-from-small-business-cfib.html" target="_blank">Read CFIB's full statement</a>

  • Claude Dauphin, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities

    "We're very happy to see that 280,000 will have access to broadband internet. Is it enough? Of course, if it was everybody, we would be even more happy but 280,000 people is better than nothing."

  • Sharon Bollenbach, CEO Special Olympics Canada

    "We will be receive an extra $10.8 million over four years which is significant to us and our organization and allows us to expand our reach of having athletes with an intellectual disability engaged in sport and reaching the benefits of sports that all of us are excited about, especially with the Olympics on now."

  • Jessica McCormick, Chair of the Canadian Federation of Students

    "We're disappointed with the budget. We heard a lot about youth unemployment in the days leading up to budget so we were hopeful that there would be something substantial to address the issue. There are some paid internships, about 3,500, but there are almost 400,000 youth unemployed between the ages of 20 and 29 and so helping the 1 per cent doesn't really do something substantial to address the issue. "The other part of the budget that I have some concerns with is about expanding loans for apprentices. Downloading the cost of education and training on to the individual doesn't do much to breakdown any barriers for people accessing the training. Investments in non-repayable needs based grants which the Conservatives introduced in 2008 would have been a better way to reduce debt and eliminate some of those barriers to accessing training."

  • Pamela Fralick, President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society

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  • David Wilkes, Senior Vice President at the Retail Council of Canada

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  • Dennis Howlett, Executive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness

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  • Jean-Francois Tremblay, University of Ottawa Economics Professor

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  • Debi Daviau, President of The Professional Institute of The Public Service of Canada

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  • Gordon Moore, Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion

    "I am very pleased that the issue of a dignified funeral for the most vulnerable, low income Veterans has finally been resolved. The Legion was singled out in the 2013 Budget in that the Government stated it would work with us and they lived up to their commitment in today’s budget." In a <a href="http://www.legion.ca/article/legion-disappointed-with-only-slight-consideration-for-its-budget-recommendations/" target="_blank">statement,</a> Moore also expressed disappointment that the budget did not address "the urgent financial shortcomings" of the New Veterans Charter.

  • Kevin Page, Former Parliamentary Budget Officer

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  • Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa

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  • UP NEXT: 2014 Budget Highlights

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  • Public Service Cuts

    The lion's share of spending cuts -- $1.5 billion -- will be targeted at the public service. The tories aim to cut $7.4 billion over the next six years from the public service compensation budget. Ottawa will drop its contributions to retired public servant health care plans from 75 per cent to 50 per cent.

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    The federal government is scrapping the investor immigration program that allowed immigratns to "buy" their way into Canada with investment into the local economy. It was unclear initially whether the provincial investor programs will also be scrapped.

  • Credit Card Bills

    The feds say they will ban banks from charging customers money to receive their credit card bills in the mail. Ottawa says it might do the same for wireless companies too.

  • Auto Industry Support

    Ottawa said it will spend an additional $500 million for the Automotive Innovation Fund, essentially to bail out Chrysler, while announcing it is selling its stocks in GM, which it received when it bailed out the company in 2009.

  • Tobacco Prices Going Up

    Ottawa plans to raise the cost of cigarettes by more than $4 on a carton of smokes. The cigarette tax would bring $685 million in new money next year.

  • Jobs

    The Conservatives are pressing ahead with the controversial Canada Job Grant program. The program covers up to $15,000 for training. When it was announced in Budget 2013, Ottawa said it would be funded in three ways split equally between the federal government, the province and the employer. But Ottawa hasn't been able to get an agreement with the provinces who are upset the federal government plans cut millions from their training budget and direct that cash towards this program.

  • Youth Employment

    Ottawa plans to create more than $100 million interest free loans through the Canada Apprentice Loan program, an expansion of the Canada Student Loans Program. It will also review the Youth Employment Strategy to provide real-life work experience in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and skills trade. The federal government says it will also dedicate more money towards internships. The budget includes a new Canada Apprentice Loan program, offering $4,000 interest free loans to students.

  • Rural Broadband

    Ottawa will invest $305 million over five years to extend high-speed broadband to some 280,000 homes.

  • Military Spending

    Tuesday's federal budget pushed $3.1 billion in planned capital spending off into the distant future, making badly needed new equipment on the Canadian military's shopping list little more than a wish list over the next three years. - CP

  • New Windsor-Detroit Bridge

    Ottawa is giving a boost to southwestern Ontario's battered manufacturing sector with more than $1 billion in spending over the next two years to help the auto industry and build a new bridge to the U.S. at Windsor, Ont. The federal budget Tuesday called for spending $631 million over the next two years to help build a new Detroit-Windsor crossing. -CP