The figures help to illustrate the magnitude of a problem that has plagued the Liberal government's multibillion-dollar infrastructure program from the outset: they can't seem to get the money out of the federal treasury fast enough.
The government — which typically does carry about 25 per cent of its infrastructure from one project to the next — says it's simply managing the flow of cash to projects. Opposition critics, on the other hand, say the idle money is symptomatic of problems with the program.
Federal dollars only flow once cities and provinces submit receipts for reimbursement, often creating a delay between when work takes place and when the federal money is spent.
Feds give provinces an ultimatum
In some cases, the federal government won't receive receipts until a project is completely done. In other cases, projects are delayed because of labour strife, bad weather or other factors beyond Ottawa's control — a factor last week's departmental report warns readers about.
The report also shows that the government moved $591.8 million into a fund for small communities, boosting its value to $1.5 billion.
It says the federal government has given provinces and territories an ultimatum: identify projects for all the money left in the program — created by the previous Conservative government — by March 31, 2018, or watch it go to muncipalities through what's known as the federal gas tax fund, established in 2005 to provide a stable, predictable source of annual federal infrastructure dollars.