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ACEC advises government on how to address infrastructure delays


Update on ACEC’s advocacy on behalf of the consulting engineering sector.

ACEC President and CEO John Gamble recently testified to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on the government’s infrastructure plans and made recommendations to improve implementation.

During his testimony, Mr. Gamble applauded the commitments to infrastructure by the current and previous government. However, he expressed concern at the slower than anticipated pace at which investments are being made and the impact on the Canadian economy as well as the sectors who support infrastructure development. He acknowledged that while the “reprofiling” of current commitments based on expenses submitted by municipalities and the delays with the bilateral negotiations with the provinces are realistic explanations, timely and consistent infrastructure investment are as important as long-term commitments. Mr. Gamble also outlined that the current government’s Investing in Canada Plan and the Building Canada Plan introduced by the previous government are significantly back end loaded, skewing much of the investment towards the latter years of the programs. “The recent delays, while understandable and defensible,” he stated, “will even further back end load the infrastructure commitments.”

To address these concerns, ACEC outlined a series of recommendations for the government’s consideration, First, reprofiling and accelerating investments under the Building Canada Plan, created by the previous government, to offset the delays of phase 2 investments in the Canada Plan. Another recommendation brought forward by Mr. Gamble was to avoid gaps between programs by renegotiating the next generation of investments before the expiry of the current programs. A third recommendation was to provide funding to municipalities with robust asset management plans based on their investment program rather than on a project by project basis.

“This could allow multiple strategically related projects to be approved under a single application” Mr. Gamble explained. “More importantly, it will serve as an incentive for municipalities to develop and adopt asset management plans to guide strategic investment decisions.”

Finally, Mr. Gamble encouraged the Committee to consider the impact of cumulative regulatory burden on delaying or increasing the costs of projects. He recommended they follow Bill C-69 closely as it will likely impact many provincial and municipal infrastructure projects. The bill, on environmental impact assessment, still needs to be detailed. However, there is significant risk if the bill and its regulations are not clear and appropriately scoped.

ACEC believes infrastructure is a core business of government and an investment in our quality of life. The opportunity to testify to the Committee and share ACEC’s recommendations on how the government can ensure these investments are timely and consistent continues to be part of the Association’s core business. You can hear Mr. Gamble’s full testimony here. Learn more about ACEC’s ongoing advocacy efforts.