The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is “very pleased” with the federal government’s commitment in its 2011 budget to work with municipalities, provinces and others on developing a long-term infrastructure plan.
“Within the next 10 years much of our infrastructure will need to be replaced or expanded to avoid economic stagnation,” said Michael Atkinson, president of the CCA.“Canada needs to continue to invest in its public infrastructure not simply because it stimulates the economy in the short term but because it is an investment in the very foundation of our nation’s future that ensures Canada’s ability to remain competitive on the international stage, increase productivity, and to build upon our economic and social prosperity.”
Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance minister, revealed the long-term plan commitment after commenting that his government recently made the largest federal investment in infrastructure in over 60 years through its Economic Action Plan. “Going forward, we will work with provinces, territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and other stakeholders to develop a new long-term plan for public infrastructure,” said Flaherty.
In the past, stakeholders such as the FCM and CCA have called for such a plan to help tackle Canada’s $123 billion municipal infrastructure deficit. CCA has strongly advocated for increased federal funding support for national, provincial and local infrastructure repair and construction.
The CCA noted that the current infrastructure was built for population levels in the 1960s and not for the nearly 40 million Canadians expected by 2020. The federal government has indicated that its recent recession-fighting Economic Action Plan helped deliver 28,500 projects that are either completed or are underway. The government also said more than 480,000 jobs were created across Canada since July 2009.
“The investments made by all levels of government over the past 24 months have been critical to slowing the growth of our national infrastructure deficit,” said Atkinson. “Not only were these investments long overdue, but they helped generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenues at a time when our economy was in dire need of stimulus.”
The 2011 budget also proposed to introduce legislation which makes permanent $2 billion annually in Gas Tax Fund funding for municipal infrastructure. CCA also welcomed this measure.
At press time, published reports indicated federal opposition parties have rejected the budget, among them, the NDP, has stated it does not support the budget in its “current form”. No official vote has been held on the 2011 budget.