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MHCA Board calls on Pallister to enhance infrastructure investment

Perfect storm blows in favour public construction procurement

Extraordinarily low interest rates and an industry hungry for work has produced advantageous conditions for the provincial government, which should enhance capital infrastructure investment, the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association wrote in a letter to Premier Brian Pallister April 29.

The letter resulted from discussion at the Board of Directors teleconference meeting Wednesday, where the economic impact to the industry out of the pandemic shutdown topped the agenda.

“The economic impact of the pandemic has seen private investment in infrastructure retract dramatically. As a result, public infrastructure budgets almost alone will carry the potential for job creation and the circulation of money in our communities,” said the letter, signed by MHCA Board Chair Jack Meseyton and President Chris Lorenc.

“For that reason, as we turn to plan for economic recovery, we urge your government to significantly enhance approved infrastructure budgets to get Manitobans back to work. The status quo budget, itself, cannot do that.”

Lorenc, in his report to the Board, said MHCA has been active with numerous other leading business groups in pressing all levels of government to use the verified value of infrastructure investment to buffer the massive economic impact triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and to kickstart an economic revival

Those efforts include

  • Working with a group of six industry and business association in urging the province appoint an economic recovery task force
  • An appeal to federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna to accelerate the rollout of funds from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, giving provinces greater flexibility in how unexpended allocations can be used for infrastructure projects
  • Urging the City of Winnipeg Council to accelerate its capital investment program and identify shovel-ready and multi-year major infrastructure projects to take advantage of low interest rates, the competitive bidding environment and plans by Ottawa to push out its Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program
  • Encouraging members to press the province to restart the Quarry Rehabilitation Program in 2020, using the $8 million held in the account dedicated to this purpose to create jobs and support economies, particularly in rural Manitoba

The Board was also informed the WORKSAFELY™ program is about to pilot its online COR, TTC and flagger training. As well, further discussions with Workplace Safety and Health indicated that inspections will focus on the standard worksite safety requirements and special protocols and practices written to minimize risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is especially important to maintain the health protocols written expressly for operating during the pandemic because our industry, recognized as an essential service, has a duty of leadership,” WORKSAFELY™ Director Don Hurst said. “We do not want to see any worksite shutdown, or for our industry’s construction season to be imperiled by lack of attention to this serious issue.”

Click here to read the letter to the Premier.