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Put infrastructure on the economic-restart agenda: MHCA

Canada’s ability to rekindle its battered economy and sustainably fund its world-class social programs demands a concerted focus on trade, which means that transportation infrastructure must be central to federal and provincial investment plans.

That was the message the MHCA, joined by other leading business groups, put on the table at a virtual meeting this week with Mona Fortier, federal Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, and Jim Carr, Cabinet minister with special responsibility for the Prairies.

“A primary responsibility of each level of government is to grow the economy, without which there are no revenues to maintain, enhance or introduce new social programming, all of which support our globally envied standard of living,” Chris Lorenc, President of the MHCA, noted.

“Accordingly, the national government should harness the most immediate investments that hold multi-year returns to GDP and leave lasting legacies. Those are investments in Canada’s core infrastructure – streets, sewer, water, trade gateways & corridors, inland ports, rail, air, marine and our national highways.”

The brief the MHCA presented laid out the priorities the heavy construction industry regarded as necessary to economic revival.

It called for the federal government to champion the development of a ‘Western Canada Trade Gateway and Corridors Program’ to incent public/private trade investment across Western Canada.

Further, municipal infrastructure – roads, streets, sewer, water, wastewater treatment and water distribution systems need sustained and strategic investment, but that requires the federal government to increase its revenue-sharing with cities and towns, the MHCA said.

“Municipalities deliver front-line core infrastructure services to citizens and, therefore, are the first line of defence against the threats posed by extreme weather events/climate change. They must be able to adapt water & sewer, transportation and water control infrastructure to those pressures.”

Lastly, Lorenc said there is an important role for the federal government in assisting the construction industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Alternative energy sources are emerging for heavy construction equipment, but federal engagement is required to accelerate its development and market readiness and take-up by early adopters in the industry who shoulder greater burden of risk in buying new technology.”

The MHCA encouraged the federal government to partner with the Canadian Construction Association, in a coordinated effort to develop and promote alternative energy sources to power heavy equipment.