ACECís post-budget update
Impact on consulting engineering firms and key issues to watch for
Budget 2016 proved to be a positive plan for most of the Canadian consulting engineering sector. Read ACEC’s analysis of the federal budget here. Now that the dust has somewhat settled around the recently tabled federal budget, ACEC has a broader understanding of the budget’s impact on the Canadian consulting engineering sector and on what issues it will watch for as the plan unfolds and materializes.
Key issues ACEC will watch for:
Timing of the federal government’s plan
Phase 1 of the government’s infrastructure plan appears to be designed to address immediate infrastructure needs and to stimulate the economy. It also accelerates some elements of the Building Canada Fund. Providing funding in phases is not necessarily problematic, though it does suggest that much of the money is back-end loaded. ACEC will work with government to ensure they are mindful that next year’s shovel-ready and worthy projects and those of the 10-year commitment require engineering, architecture and design work on the table many months before any construction work is underway.
Phase 2 will focus on infrastructure of long-term strategic importance to the overall Canadian economy. ACEC will stress to government the importance of embarking on Phase 2 of infrastructure spending sooner rather than later and involving the design and construction sector in the program design.
Note that unlike the Building Canada Fund, engineering costs will be eligible expenses for municipalities to claim under the new infrastructure funds for transit and green infrastructure.
With respect to the Building Canada Fund, ACEC has learned that Ontario is the only province to submit its full list of proposed projects, which has contributed to the delay in investments under this fund. It is also worth noting the PPP screen for projects under the Building Canada Fund has been discontinued.
Efficient and science-based environmental assessment process
The federal budget also contains significant measures to encourage and support environmental
sustainability. While encouraged that the government proposes a rigorous environmental assessment process based on science, ACEC will be seeking assurances that processes will be clear and efficient and won’t encourage frivolous or vexatious delays to infrastructure and resource projects that are important to the economy.
Canadian Infrastructure Bank
ACEC has confirmed that the promised Canada Infrastructure Bank which wasn’t mentioned in the 2016 federal budget is still in development and will likely be introduced as part of Phase 2. It appears that the government has not yet established the mandate or the parameters of the bank.
Resources sector and small business
ACEC is disappointed that there was minimal assistance to the resource sector, which has carried Canada’s economy over many decades. This sector has played a vital role in the modernization of our economy in the past and will continue to contribute to Canada’s prosperity if supported. ACEC sees the Canada Infrastructure Bank's mandate including assistance to help the resource sector access capital.
The deferral of tax relief for small businesses is also unfortunate for this important segment of the Canadian economy.
Providing value and fiscal responsibility to Canadians
While the deficit is of concern, ACEC sees debt management as the real long term issue. Investing in projects with the highest potential return on investment will be of essence. To that end, modern and progressive procurement practices like Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS), especially for design professionals, would also contribute to the success of infrastructure investments by ensuring high quality, high value projects with increased service life and significant life-cycle savings.
More information on the budget
Upon the release of the budget on March 22, ACEC provided member firms with key numbers for new funding and an at-a-glance analysis of Budget 2016’s impact on the consulting engineering sector. Read ACEC’s post-budget analysis here.
ACEC thrives to place the interests of its members, their clients and Canadians at the forefront of Canada’s political conversation. With that goal in mind, ACEC has reached out to media prior and subsequently to the budget’s announcement:
ACEC will continue to reach out to media and continuously work with government towards effective and timely implementation of the budget.
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