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Saskatchewan unveils $7.5-billion infrastructure plan to boost economy

Saskatchewan unveils $7.5-billion infrastructure plan to boost economy
PROVINCE OF SASKATCHEWAN — Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure conduct road work. The province announced a $2 billion infrastructure stimulus package to help put people back to work and boost an economy hit with low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

REGINA — Saskatchewan has announced a $7.5-billion, two-year capital plan to put people back to work and jump-start the province’s economy with infrastructure projects in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding represents a $2-billion increase over the government’s existing capital plan and the resulting projects are expected to support 10,000 jobs.  

“Over the next two years, our government will invest $7.5 billion dollars in schools, hospitals, highways, Crown utility projects, municipal infrastructure and other important capital projects designed to build a strong Saskatchewan,” said Premier Scott Moe in a statement. “This is a $2 billion economic booster-shot over and above the $5.5 billion our government had already planned to invest in capital projects over the next two years and will be an important step in our province’s economic recovery.”

Officials noted the stimulus funding will balance the need for smaller, short-term projects to jump-start economic activity and get people back to work quickly with longer-term, large-scale projects that leverage multiple sectors over the next several years. The funding package includes more than $300 million for highway projects, $200 million for health infrastructure and $135 million for education infrastructure.

Construction leaders in the province expressed support for the news.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the provincial economy was already facing headwinds through depressed resource prices, anti-pipeline policies and rail blockades,” Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association president Shantel Lipp said in a media release.  “The announcement today will mean a big boost in the arm not only to the construction industry but to the province as a whole.”

The Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) also praised the announcement, noting it could be a huge benefit to construction workers and the economy.

“There’s no other way to say it: today’s announcement is absolutely fantastic news for Saskatchewan’s construction industry, construction companies and workers, and Saskatchewan’s economy overall,” said Mark Cooper, SCA president. “The provincial government stepped up in a big way today. They heard what industry has been telling them, and they responded. Thank you to Premier Moe, Deputy Premier Gord Wyant, and to all members of the cabinet and provincial officials for making this decision.”

Approximately $1.37 billion of the new funding is committed for large infrastructure projects with additional allocations to be announced at a later date. 

SaskBuilds is in charge of oversight as well as project management and procurement expertise. 

Design, engineering, architecture, construction and project management costs are included in this total with the goal of ensuring projects are shovel-ready by 2021-22.

More than $300 million of the funds are intended for highway projects, including thin membrane surface upgrades, passing lanes, including $46 million dedicated for upgrades to municipal roads and airports.

Approximately $181 million has been set aside for renewal projects to reduce deferred maintenance on provincial and third-party assets and reduce operating costs through energy efficiency. 

This includes new allocations of $100 million for health and $25.9 million for education, with the remainder addressing priority projects in various other ministries and agencies.

Finally, $150 million in a per capita payment through a new Municipal Economic Enhancement Program will support infrastructure projects in communities across the province.

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