VAUGHAN, ONT. — The chair of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario says thousands of construction workers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas could lose their jobs between now and spring if senior levels of government fail to provide funding so municipalities can get working on state-of-good-repair infrastructure projects.
Peter Smith, who is also executive director of the Heavy Construction Association of Toronto, issued the plea in a podcast released yesterday.
“That’s a lot of jobs,” said Smith in the podcast. “They’re good-paying jobs and there’s a lot of families that are going to be facing a pretty bleak winter if we don’t do something about this now.”
The podcast, called Investing in Infrastructure, features Smith in conversation with Dave Trafford, host on Newstalk 1010 in Toronto. It is the 10th instalment in a series called Conversations About Construction.
Smith says municipalities have numerous maintenance and repair projects that are ready to go to tender, but they don’t have the money now because COVID-19 hit and decimated their budgets. As a result, municipalities are putting off projects that were scheduled to go ahead in 2020.
The City of Toronto, for example, is going to defer almost $400 million worth of work that was slated for this year. Even more concerning, though, is that the city doesn’t know what it’s going to do in 2021, he said.
“It looked like a fantastic year for the construction industry,” said Smith. “There was all this maintenance or state-of-good-repair work that we were looking at seeing come out for tender. On top of that there were all these megaprojects, mass transit like the Ontario Line, so it was going to be a great year. Unfortunately, COVID hit and when that happened municipalities had a raid on their piggybanks.”