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Canadian Construction Association credits federal infrastructure stimulus for job creation

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by Kelly Lapointe

Canadian Construction Association (CCA) president Michael Atkinson said the federal stimulus program was very beneficial to the overall Canadian economy as well as the Canadian construction industry. Going forward into 2012, Atkinson is looking to the federal government’s replacement for the current Building Canada Plan for infrastructure, which expires in March 2014.

The past year was a positive one for the Canadian construction economy and the federal government’s commitment to renew the country’s aging infrastructure.

Canadian Construction Association (CCA) president Michael Atkinson said the federal stimulus program, which was extended from March 31 to Oct. 31, was an all-around success story for 2011. He said the program was very beneficial to the overall Canadian economy as well as the Canadian construction industry.

“When you look worldwide at how various countries responded to the recession and how they felt they could get the biggest bang for the buck, they all really chose infrastructure and investment as the way to go as opposed to other measures,” he said, adding that the speed in which the three levels of Canadian government worked together was very telling.

“I think the proof of the success of that program and the way the construction industry came through is the impact that program had in creating jobs, not just in the construction industry, but in other industries as well.”

In 2011, the federal government introduced legislation to make permanent the annual transfer of funds to municipalities under the Gas Tax Fund. This marks the first time a federal infrastructure program has become a permanent fixture. 

The CCA points out that as an export-driven economy, the efficient flow of primary and manufactured goods or services outside its borders has been a key factor in Canada’s prosperity. Canada’s ability to conduct business and its reputation as a global supplier of goods and services depends on continued investment to improve Canadian infrastructure.

Going forward into 2012, Atkinson is looking to the federal government’s replacement for the current Building Canada Plan for infrastructure, which expires in March 2014. In November, the federal government announced a strategy to develop a successor program for Build Canada Plan.

CCA members have long advocated for a federal leadership role in the development of a long-term national plan for the management and renewal of Canada’s aging infrastructure. The introduction of the Building Canada Plan was a concerted effort on the part of all governments to do so.

Since that time, the CCA says it has been pleased with the federal government commitment to consult with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as industry stakeholders, which is an important next step in the modernization of the Canadian infrastructure network.

The federal government will be working with other levels of government and important stakeholders like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as it creates a new long-term infrastructure program “to ensure that Canada’s infrastructure going forward continues to be state of the art and effective in terms of providing the proper backbone for Canada’s economy as we go forward,” said Atkinson.

“Looking ahead to 2012, it’s going to be a challenging year, but also I think one filled with a certain set of hope and the need for a lot of work in putting together that new program that will eventually replace or takeover from the current federal Building Canada Plan.”

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