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Schuler lays out details on budget, stimulus investment for MHCA Board

Board encourages stimulus investment for projects across the industry

Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler tallied some $550+ million, total, in budgeted and planned new investment through 2020 – with additional funds to flow in the following year – in core infrastructure projects in a conference call with the MHCA Board of Directors June 24.

“This breakdown gives us a better idea not just of the level of investment this year in core infrastructure, but from which program envelopes each pot of funding will flow,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said, following the conference call.

“It allows all of our members to track projects of interest through the tendering process.

“If our understanding of the program intended for 2020 and beyond is correct, we are also appreciative to the Premier for his support in enabling enhanced investment and economic stimulus programming,” Lorenc added.

The MHCA is tracking through Merx, MI’s highways capital tenders, and will follow up with the department to track awards against budgeted program levels.

Schuler noted that the department is intent on moving the tenders to award quickly, and holding projects on the shelf, to be pulled down if it appears that project costs fall under the budgeted levels, to ensure the full committed program is expended this year.

The MHCA board strongly encouraged the minister take advantage of the competitive market, in which good prices will return real value to the taxpayers.

It was also noted that the economic stimulus investment plan, which sets out $150 million for paving tenders over the next two years, should be broadened to include the full sweep of heavy construction, including earth-moving, grading and related earthworks.  For a breakdown of the total investments expected this year click here.

“This was a productive, frank discussion with the minister and we are grateful he made time to give greater detail to the province’s investment plans, but also to hear concerns and views of the heavy construction industry,” said Lorenc.

The conference call took place after a meeting of the board, which highlighted a number of priorities of the MHCA, including:

  • MHCA is seeking confirmation that Manitoba has submitted its projects for approval to the federal government; $230 million of the economic recovery plan is allotted by the province for cost-shared projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan.
  • Federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, in a conference call with MHCA and other business organizations, noted his government is giving greater flexibility for approvals of projects under the ICIP program, as well as looking at a new stream of infrastructure investment to bolster economic recovery post-pandemic.
  • The Canadian Construction Association has agreed to sponsor a report on the environmental benefits, including mitigation of climate change impact, of strategic infrastructure investment
  • The Quarry Rehab Program is to restart this construction season and the government has indicated that the Provincial Aggregate Advisory Committee, of which the MHCA is member, will be consulted prior to any final program decisions are made
  • The Board remains concerned that the province of Saskatchewan continues to restrict free trade with preferences in its tender documents to Saskatchewan resident companies. The matter has been raised with the three prairie provincial premiers
  • The MHCA Annual Golf Classic tournament will proceed on August 12, with adjustments to its format to ensure compliance with provincial COVDI-19 restrictions and safety protocol
  • WORKSAFELY™ is reminding all companies that provincial Workplace Safety and Health inspectors will be visiting construction site for routine inspections as well as for compliance with COVID-19 safety requirements