Vic Fedeli, interim leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives (PC) said his party wants to get shovels in the ground on infrastructure projects across the province.
“On infrastructure, I do notice, maybe you do as well, that the (Liberal) government makes a lot of announcements…with very few shovels in the ground,” Fedeli told delegates at a luncheon during the Ontario Road Builders’ Association 91st Convention Feb. 5, where he made his party’s pitch just a few months before the June provincial election.
“Kitchener two-way all-day GO service, GO service to Niagara, the Ring of Fire, these are some of the promises we continue to hear about. The Ontario PCs are committed to getting these projects done — no more announcements, no more excuses, we just want to get them done.”
Patrick Brown was slated to speak at the convention but the former PC leader recently resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. Fedeli, former finance and energy critic for the PC Party, was named interim leader Jan. 26.
Traffic congestion has become a huge issue in the province, Fedeli added during his address.
“Commute times seem to have gotten worse and many of us are waking up at the crack of dawn just to beat highway traffic,” he said. “This is unacceptable. Ontario shouldn’t be known for the longest or most undrivable commutes.”
As the former mayor of North Bay, Ont. he said he recognizes the importance of building new infrastructure in municipalities.
“We know that if you want to build a city where businesses want to invest and where families want to grow and put down roots, you have to have infrastructure corridors that meet modern demands,” Fedeli stated. “You have to have roads, highways, transit and bridges that not only meet the needs of the 21st century but that are from the 21st century. People will not live in cities, towns or villages where you simply can’t get from A to B. Businesses don’t want to locate in cities where they can’t move goods and products to market.”
He also realizes that municipalities have a responsibility to maintain infrastructure but sometimes need extra help when it comes to funding larger projects.
“Some infrastructure projects are just too large for rural and small town municipalities to complete on their own, yet when they look to the province for help, too often they are treated as an afterthought,” said Fedeli. “We need to increase options for rural infrastructure and treat these municipalities, especially smaller municipalities with the respect they deserve. That’s why the Ontario PC government will allow pooling of similar projects so smaller municipalities can benefit from P3 financing.”
Fedeli also pointed out there are employers in Ontario who can’t find workers with the necessary skills and students graduating from high school and university looking to find good paying jobs.
“Employers shouldn’t have to search beyond Ontario’s borders to find the right candidate for the job and young people shouldn’t have to leave Ontario to find work,” said Fedeli.
“We will do more to encourage careers in the skilled trades…We will also better integrate high school skills and apprentice programs like the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program into local communities and job markets. We can do more to match jobs with skills including making these programs regionally targeted. We also need to do more to make students aware of which jobs are in demand.”