And now, the race is on to see who will take Ottawa’s reins of power, with promises of more billions in spending aimed at luring voters to tick assorted party candidates’ names on ballots in the federal election Sept. 20.
Of course, the high-profile spending by Ottawa in the past 18 months has been on the COVID-19-pandemic, with government pouring $2 billion into B.C. through the Safe Restart Agreement in addition to emergency benefits since the pandemic’s start.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our government has committed to doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to support Canadians and Canadian businesses,” said Erik Nosaluk, press secretary to Minister of Digital Government Joyce Murray, Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra.
Then there’s the $2.87 billion in Canada Recovery Benefit spending, and $254 million for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit in addition to other programs under Employment Insurance spending in B.C.
Between January 2016 and August 2021, Infrastructure Canada has approved $4.7 billion for 674 projects in B.C. Provincial allocations under the Canada Community-Building Fund total $2.2 billion, the department told Glacier Media.
But not all the money spent in B.C. was for keeping people going or looking toward recovery. More than $7.6 million has been given to B.C. universities for research into multiple aspects of COVID-19.
And Ottawa was quick to contribute to global efforts fighting the virus and funded more than 49 additional COVID-19 research projects, with much of the work being done in Vancouver.
“Federal investments represent more than eight out of every 10 dollars spent to fight COVID-19 in Canada,” Nosaluk said.
In addition to other infrastructure work, Ottawa has contributed or pledged significant funding for transit in B.C., with the two major projects being the planned SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway extension (20% federal funding) and the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension project, to which it has contributed $1.3 billion.
Starting in 2016, through the Investing in Canada Plan, Ottawa has committed more than $180 billion over 12 years for infrastructure from public transit to trading ports, broadband networks to energy systems, community services to natural spaces.
Various programs have also provided $78.2 million toward various B.C. ferry projects including a building upgrade in West Vancouver.
B.C.’s coastal waters have been a focus for successive governments, the Liberals being no different.
The party has allocated $71 million for 42 projects for the future of wild Pacific salmon and B.C.’s fish and seafood sector.
Further, the Liberals have funded more than $1 billion for marine protections.
• $1.5 billion for the Oceans Protection Plan which consists of over 50 initiatives including provisions for sustainable fishing practices and an emphasis on collaboration with indigenous communities;
• $61.5 million added to the existing $167.4 million for the Whales Initiative aimed at protecting the threatened Southern Resident Killer Whale population. That includes expanding measures to reduce underwater noise and a provision for protecting their main food supply, the Chinook salmon, by reducing their removal by 25-35%, and;
• $81 million over five years to increase marine protected areas to 25% by 2025.
These figures do not include significant spending on social and other programs.