The provincial government should uncap the potential of its Infrastructure department to drive trade and economic growth for Manitoba and join Western counterparts to make the West a trade superpower.
That is the core message of the MHCA’s pre-budget paper to Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding, which it will be submitting this month.
“We know that strategic investing in infrastructure produces a high return to our GDP, in part because of immediate creation of well-paying jobs but, in the long-term, because it enables trade,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said.
“But the key here is “strategic” – it is a far greater return-on-investment if those public dollars are coordinated within and between governments to identify joint projects that improve our trade gateways and corridors.”
Manitoba Infrastructure should play a central role in that strategy, re-inventing and enlarging its current mandate as a manager of transportation assets to a department that orchestrates a policy framework designed to produce annual, five-year and longer-term investment plans that focus on building trade networks, the MHCA suggests.
Canada and all provinces have to turn their minds, and their investment plans, to the critical job of economic revival – all economies and public revenues have been battered by the impact of the pandemic. The road to recovery is paved by trade, Lorenc said, noting Manitoba and Canada’s economies are heavily trade-dependent.
In Manitoba, communities, producers and businesses need to be within reach of roads that are classified as ‘RTAC’ – a road that built to carry the load of large trucks and heavier traffic – so they can get their goods and services efficiently to market, but also to be able to attract investment and locate value-added enterprise for commodities.
It also means regional economic development, where proximal municipalities work together to agree to prioritize infrastructure investment plans that benefit the region.
The same idea, enlarged, is the concept behind a Western Canadian trade gateway and corridors initiative, supported by the MHCA.
Manitoba Infrastructure can play that role, if it is given the resources and mandate to work on annual and five-year budgets, with a longer-term investment outlook. Such a format seeds confidence in the private sector; business, manufacturers and exporters all look for solid signs that public investment supports their potential for expansion.
“Manitoba, and the West, can be a trade superpower with the support of a recapitalization of federal gateway and corridor investment programs. Canada needs the West to strengthen existing and expand into emerging markets,” Lorenc said.
“That is the best guarantee of economic revival and, more importantly, long-term prosperity that benefits all Canadians.”
Click here to read the submission to Minister Fielding.