Federal budget 'great news' for Ottawa says Watson

Jim Watson

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson is pleased with the federal budget, which was tabled in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The federal government plans to spend $20 billion across the country on public transit. The document doesn't list a specific funding commitment for Ottawa's phase 2 of LRT, but Watson says he's been assured the feds will be there with the $1.15 billion dollars to complete the project. He says he was called by the Infrastructure Minister's office on Tuesday, confirming the cash will be there.

"This is great news for our city," Watson says. "The province came to the table several months ago, our council approved our funding two weeks ago, and now the federal government has come as the third partner with their 1.15 billion dollar commitment."

Watson thanked local MPs and federal ministers, whom he said had been "very, very helpful" in ensuring that shovels can be in the ground for phase 2 "as quickly as possible."

Watson is also praising the government's plan to make surplus federal lands available for housing.

"Of all the cities in the country, we're probably the best suited to go after this project very aggressively because we have, I suspect, in real terms or even on a per-capita basis, the most federal land in the country," Watson says.

He didn't praise everything. Watson says he's disappointed by the decision to cancel the public transit tax credit, which he believes motivated people to purchases transit passes.

No mention of Phoenix

The 278-page spending plan by the Liberals has left out one item which affects thousands of people in the Capital: Phoenix.

The budget was completely silent on the troubled pay system, which has been underpaying and overpaying public servants for over a year.

The federal government is the largest employer in the city.

The budget does include some plans for the federal public service, notably a review of at least three federal departments, looking for better value from the public service.

The reviews aim to eliminate inefficient programs and curb wasteful spending. An update on these reviews will be included in next year's budget.

With files from Kristy Cameron.