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Lack of funds forces potential closure for Canadian Construction Innovation Council

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by Korky Koroluk

Dogged by lack of long-term funding, the Canadian Construction Innovation Council could be headed for extinction.

CCA Board

Construction Innovation group looking for saviour

OTTAWA

Dogged by lack of long-term funding, the Canadian Construction Innovation Council could be headed for extinction.

The Canadian Construction Association’s research and innovation committee was told of an apparent lack of awareness on the part of the federal government of the construction industry and its needs.

And, said CCIC executive director Gerry Meade, although a new program called the Business Networks Centres of Excellence has just been funded and might be applicable to CCIC, so far “there are no rules or criteria for applying for funding from the program.”

When Industry Canada was pressed to establish a modest secretariat devoted to the construction industry, it failed to provide even one staff member, Meade said.

“We need an Industry Canada staff member to help our industry put together the information the government needs in the format the government requires,” Meade said.

There seemed to be a lack of awareness within Industry Canada of the size of the Canadian construction industry, Meade said. When Bernier was told the magnitude, “he seemed somewhat surprised.”

CCIC receives limited funding from the CCA and the National Research Council of Canada, but it is enough to provide only secretarial and administration support. As well, the NRC provides in-kind support for meetings facilities and conference calls. Beyond that, the Construction Research Institute of Canada has provided $25,000 a year for two years to be used for specific projects.

There have been “numerous discussions” with Public Works and Government Services Canada and Infrastructure Canada, but funding for CCIC is “not within their mandate,” Meade said.

CCIC was perhaps a victim of “the way governments work,” suggested Manley McLachlan, president of the B.C. Construction Association

“Project funding is for the short term, but when someone asks for long-term funding, then the public servants ask themselves what they would do when other industries ask for the same thing,” added McLachlan.

“We have a workforce of a million people, but nobody knows,” said Ian Steer, of Aluma Systems Canada. “We represent 12 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product, but nobody knows.”

Meade suggested without long-term funding, it may become necessary to fold CCIC, and try to find funding for future projects dealing with innovation one project at a time.

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