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Infrastructure assessment should bolster trade corridor investment: WCR&HCA

A national infrastructure assessment is a valuable, long overdue step towards putting Canada on strong footing for investment in critical infrastructure assets to boost its trade profile and productivity, the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association says in a brief submitted to the federal government.

The submission, sent June 17, outlines the imperative and necessary elements of a Western Canada Trade Gateways and Corridors Initiative, a proposal the WCR&HCA has advanced to Ottawa and the region’s provincial governments.

“The National Infrastructure Assessment can be the ‘keystone’ in “building back better,” by ensuring Canada identifies and invests in the strategic nation-building infrastructure that holds the fastest, highest return to our GDP to generate the opportunity to move our country where we want to be, for generations to come,” the brief to Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna says.

The infrastructure assessment should aim to serve Canada’s immediate needs by:

– conducting a comprehensive survey of the condition of national, provincial and municipal infrastructure which is strategic to national interest;

– estimating the level of investment required for bringing that infrastructure to good condition, and for building new infrastructure necessary to support economic growth;

– surveying the public and private sector’s regional, provincial and municipal infrastructure priorities which are of national significance; and,

– setting out the steps necessary to move to a sustainable, long-term funding strategy to meet those needs.

Those basic objectives can serve as the foundation upon which to build a plan to elevate Canada’s strategy for increased trade, domestically, continentally and globally.

The strategy needs to assess the trade potential that resides within the new or expanded trade agreements that Canada has signed in the last years and then identify the nation-building infrastructure projects that allow the country to seize on the trade opportunities, prioritizing investment for those projects that hold the greatest return to our GDP.

The return on investment is the way for the country and its provincial governments to revive their economies, reduce the deficits that have accumulated due to the effect of the pandemic and economic shutdown that resulted, the paper noted.

The WCR&HCA said a Western Canada Trade Gateways and Corridors Initiative will open Asia’s untapped trade markets to Canada.

“Western Canada, our country’s port to a vast, untapped Asian market, is indispensable to Canada’s trade profile and productivity and, therefore, its economic health and prosperity,” the brief explains.

“Done right, a sustained, long-term, robust investment program for Western Canada’s trade gateways and corridors can help secure for generations to come the standard of living Canadians have come to expect.”