The Building for Recovery coalition says now is the time for provincial and federal governments to deliver on billions of dollars of infrastructure investments so the construction industry can rebuild Canada’s economy in the wake of COVID-19.
“Our message is we need municipalities, we need the provinces, we need the feds working together to get those projects approved and out the door so that people are working and rebuilding the economy,” said Mary Van Buren, president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA).
“There is already a significant amount of funding that the federal government has set aside through the invest in Canada fund, that’s the $180 billion over 12 years. If you look at the 2018 commitments…there is something like $8 billion that has still not been committed and we’re now in 2021.
“There is plenty of money right now in the system that we need to take advantage of.”
Launched last year, Building for Recovery, coalition of construction sector associations, includes Associated Equipment Distributors, the CCA, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada and the National Trade Contractors Council of Canada.
In addition to getting the funds flowing and getting projects going, the campaign is also asking the government for economic stimulus as they are considering budgets.
“We know we have a significant infrastructure deficit,” said Van Buren, adding the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card shows the nation’s infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, are in poor condition.
While the federal government’s focus on the environment and climate change and retrofits of existing buildings is important, it cannot be ignored how critical and well used roads, bridges and ports have been to deliver goods and services during the pandemic, she explained.
“We need economic stimulus to look after not only the infrastructure deficit that we have but also how we can build in some of those more aspirational goals around the environment and sustainability,” said Van Buren. “Funds have been set aside for reskilling and upskilling. Hopefully we can hire some of those displaced people.”
CCA also has a number of its own initiatives on the go that go hand-in-hand with the coalition’s goals.
“One of our key messages remains on the need for a 25-year infrastructure plan because we know how complex it is for municipalities, provinces and feds to agree on what those projects are and how they get funded,” said Van Buren. “It also will put confidence into the system for both the construction sector but also for investors to know this is a commitment…that the projects are going to be there. It will allow for things like training apprentices…and innovation, which is a longer-term payout.”
The association will also be releasing a white paper on climate change with recommendations from the industry.
“That’s going to be very helpful for starting a deeper dialogue with the government around the role that construction can play in meeting the climate change agenda,” explained Van Buren.
Virtually Unstoppable, CCA’s annual conference is going virtual this year. It will take place March 23 to 25 and feature an expert lineup of speakers and panellists as well as the association’s national awards program, Van Buren added.
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