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Attaching conditions to federal infrastructure fund is unfair, Higgs says | CBC News



New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says the federal government should collaborate with the provinces on rolling out housing programs, instead of requiring them to meet certain conditions to access a slice of a new $6 billion fund.

“I think it’s unfortunate for them right out front to put a condition, ‘Well if you don’t agree, we’ll go direct to municipalities,'” Higgs said to reporters. “I think that’s kind of an unfair statement for them to make.”  

The federal government announced billions of dollars in new money on Tuesday to address the housing crisis, but much of it will only be accessible to provinces and territories that can agree to certain conditions.

The new Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund will go toward construction and upgrading water, wastewater, storm water and solid waste infrastructure.

WATCH | Who wouldn’t want to have this in your community’:

ACOA minister tours Moncton housing project

Gudie Hutchings says an eight-unit apartment complex being built by non-profit group Rising Tide is an example of what can happen when all levels of government collaborate.

Of the $6 billion available, $1 billion will go directly to municipalities, and the remaining $5 billion will be set aside for provinces and territories.

Ottawa said the provinces will have until Jan. 1 to secure agreements. 

Higgs said New Brunswick has already committed considerable funding toward housing and existing provincial plans could be duplicated through federal initiatives.

“We all kind of want the same end goal and so for that reason I’d say yes, a deal should be a possibility. But without understanding what the conditions are, it’s difficult to say,” he said.

Gudie Hutchings, the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and rural economic development, was touring an affordable housing project under construction in Moncton on Tuesday.

Gudie Hutchings
Gudie Hutchings, the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, speaks to reporters in Moncton on Tuesday. (Alexandre Silberman/CBC)

Hutchings walked through a new eight-unit apartment complex, being built by the non-profit Rising Tide. She said the project is an example of collaboration between all levels of government, which is the goal under the new infrastructure fund.

“I hope we all realize that housing is an issue for all levels of government, and we’ll only battle it by working together,” she told reporters at the construction site.  “So I’m confident that they will step up, because who wouldn’t want to have this in your community and throughout your province.”

Hutchings said she hopes to see the non-profit sector benefit from the investment in funding for housing infrastructure.

“The need is great and there’s many, many tools in our toolbox to address the housing crisis issue. And these folks are addressing a certain need.”

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