POLITICS

Liberal Cabinet Meeting To Shape 2016 Plans Amid Gloomy Economic News

01/17/2016 11:18 EST | Updated 01/17/2017 05:12 EST
SAINT ANDREWS, N.B. — Canada's infrastructure minister says the government is considering changing the way it traditionally funds construction projects and pick up more of the tab.

Most infrastructure projects that receive federal funding require provinces and municipalities to pony up matching funds, splitting the costs three ways.

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says that could change given what he's been hearing from provincial and local officials about making projects a reality.

He says in order to help prod a sluggish economy, his department is trying to fast-track spending for approved projects that are waiting in the queue for federal dollars.

The economy and more than $5 billion in new infrastructure spending are casting a shadow over the first federal cabinet meeting of 2016. The cabinet decided to get out of Ottawa and hold the meeting in a community in southwest New Brunswick.

amarjeet sohi

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Dec. 8, 2015. (CP)

Cabinet ministers will have a full day of meetings on Monday before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a handful of ministers travel overseas to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.

The meeting will give cabinet ministers a chance to plan out the year ahead and start to frame the size and scope of their first budget.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been hearing concerns about the economy from Canadians during his pre-budget consultations and has tried to calm frayed nerves by pointing to the Liberal election platform.

Insiders have told The Canadian Press the Liberals are "actively'' considering speeding up delivery of the more than $5 billion in extra infrastructure spending the government pledged in the election to help stimulate economic growth through this year.

The Liberals had vowed to run deficits of no more than $10 billion this year and next, but have since shifted to calling the figure a target.

The federal budget is expected to be delivered in mid- to late-March.

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