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Infrastructure is an investment in prosperity and a core business of government, regardless of which party is in government 

 

Op-ed by ACEC-Canada President & CEO, John Gamble featured in Hill Times.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) issued a report on March 13th that examined the incremental impact of the Invest in Canada Plan (IICP), the federal government’s $188B infrastructure investment program, on capital spending by provinces and municipalities. The report states that provincial capital spending is $3.8B lower than what it would have been without the IICP. This, according to PBO, impacted the stimulus growth predicted by the federal government when the IICP was launched.

In a recent article, the PBO findings were reported as casting doubts on the economic benefits of infrastructure investment promised by the Trudeau government. The reality is that infrastructure enhances our competitiveness and creates significant economic opportunities for Canadians both in the short and long term. Studies by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canada West Foundation and numerous others have confirmed this repeatedly. In fact, the Conference Board of Canada, in its 2013 report Lessons Learned from the Recession and Financial Crisis, identified infrastructure investment as having the largest positive impact on economic growth.

Whatever the reason provincial investments in some jurisdictions are below what had been anticipated by the IICP, the release of the report is an important opportunity to re-emphasize, to all levels of government, that investing in infrastructure is critical to continued and sustained prosperity. It is worth noting that the report also shows that capital investment was higher than budgeted in the municipalities selected for review, demonstrating positive outcomes from IICP. For its part, the federal government needs to make its infrastructure programs more streamlined and more agile. It also needs to distribute its investments more evenly over the next decade (rather than deferring the majority of investments to the last few years of the IICP) to ensure provinces and municipalities can plan and manage their resources to take full advantage of federal investments. It is not just about politics, but about having the largest positive impact on economic growth.

With the Canadian economy once again showing signs of slowing down, this message must be re-emphasized; we need to invest in infrastructure. The underlying fact is that infrastructure development, regardless of which political party is in government, is a long-term investment in our economic, social, and environmental quality of life. Infrastructure investments create skilled jobs and develop expertise across the design and construction sectors, but more importantly, they create long-term prosperity and jobs across all sectors, making the economy more resistant to future downturns. Now more than ever, we need to continue investing in infrastructure.

John Gamble
President and CEO
Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada