MHCA acknowledges it is located on Treaty One land and the homeland of the Metis Nation

Highways, bridges and water projects seen as key to economy: Fielding

Finance Minister Scott Fielding singled out the critical role that Manitoba’s investment in highways, roads, bridges, flood control and water & wastewater projects will play in the provincial economic rebound from the pandemic recession.

Infrastructure is key to the long-term planning for economic prosperity and job creation, Fielding told those who tuned in to the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce’s post-Budget 2021 webinar April 8.

He noted in his slide presentation, which ran through the highlights of Budget 2021 and his government’s fiscal plan, that Manitoba Infrastructure will see a highways capital program of no less than $500 million per year, in this and the next two budgets.

Further, during the question-and-answer session with Chamber President Chuck Davidson, the Finance minister reiterated his government’s commitment to seeing MI present annual and five-year budgets, to allow Manitobans and the heavy construction industry see what projects and what levels of investment are being planned in the near term.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler will “come out in the not-too-distant future” with such a plan, Fielding said.

“We are very happy, and grateful, to see such a commitment to the annual and five-year highways capital program getting published,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said, following the webinar.

Lorenc said such longer-term forecasting, already in use by municipal governments, is considered best practice for asset management. It allows Manitobans to see where the province’s infrastructure priorities lie and helps the industry plan better, both in terms of sourcing supplies and labour force.

In Budget 2021, tabled by Fielding April 7, MI’s core highways capital program sits at a total $398 million. The program level includes $22.9 million carry-over from unexpended funds for Highways Capital within Budget 2020 and an incremental increase of $12.5 million.

Further, Manitoba Infrastructure has budgeted $107 million worth of work in 2021, out of the 2020 Economic Restart infrastructure investment program, announced last May.

In his address, Fielding listed some of the impacts of the pandemic economic shutdown, including:

  • Unemployment rose to 11.4% early last year; it now sits at 8%, lowest among provinces
  • Government revenues plummeted last year, but are expected to rise by 2.1%, or $361 million
  • The deficit this year is forecasted to hit $1.597 billion, compared to last year’s $2.08 billion
    • The deficit in 2022-23 is forecasted at $374 million, and back to balance in 8 years
  • Federal government supports of $600 million helped offset COVID-19 expenses, which amount to $3.2 billion over the two years
  • A total of $780 million is budgeted for global expenditures on roads, highways, bridges, water and water-control and flood protection infrastructure