ACC budget submission: infrastructure spending must fill ‘serious gaps’

The federal government should increase infrastructure investments and proposals like the Western Canada Gateway Initiative and work with the construction industry to train the workforce of the future .

These are some of the recommendations made in a pre-budget brief presented recently to Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland by the Canadian Construction Association (CCA).

“Infrastructure spending commitments must be sufficient to close the serious gaps that have been identified and position Canada for the future,” CCA President Mary Van Buren said in a letter accompanying the submission. . “Investments must be cohesively planned, long-term and guided by an independent body that can align federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous needs.

“Procurement approaches need to be streamlined and modernized. Finally, Canada needs to do more to address the critical labor shortage in the construction industry as we prepare for 22% of our workforce to retire in course of the next decade.

The brief indicates that the government’s commitment to building a more resilient economy, including investments in public infrastructure and measures to address the effects of climate change, are indeed key priorities, but infrastructure is critical to competitiveness and the quality of life of Canadians.

“We rely on power generation, roads and public transit, water management, hospitals, and natural resource development to function personally, socially, and economically,” says Van Buren. “And, as recent events have shown, the importance of building resilience cannot be overstated.”

The construction industry is ready and able to play its part in positioning the country for future challenges by helping to address aging infrastructure, increasing the resilience of Canada’s infrastructure to climate change, and building reliable infrastructure that connects supply chains and efficiently transports goods and services. across borders, she says, but the industry needs government help.

“We are an inclusive and diverse industry, seeking to hire and retain a skilled and talented workforce with well-paying jobs that can become careers for life.”

CCL’s brief outlines five key ways the construction industry can support a strong economic recovery.

On infrastructure, the CCA says the federal government is responding appropriately to the situation with initiatives such as the Investing in Canada plan and Canada Infrastructure Bank funds, but the organization asks the government to invest more money and take into account the long-term realities of infrastructure.

The CCA wants the government to cut red tape, eliminate inter-provincial trade barriers, encourage businesses to invest in Canada, ensure sustainability is built into infrastructure procurement and close the gap between levels of investment planned and what is needed to deal with aging infrastructure.

The government should also invest in trade-enabling infrastructure like the Western Canada Trade Gateway and Corridor Initiative, says the CCA brief, because the country’s economy needs reliable roads and bridges to linking supply chains and efficiently transporting goods and services across borders.

As a trading nation, part of positioning Canada for future success is ensuring goods can make it to the global market, says the CCA, but the country’s trade infrastructure is vulnerable, such as the demonstrated the global pandemic, the impact of extreme weather events in British Columbia, and truck blockages.

“Canada must significantly recapitalize its Trade Corridor Fund for long-term strategic investments in trade-enabling infrastructure, including the Western Canada Trade Gateway and Corridor Initiative, to spur economic growth in our country.

The government must also work with industry to promote and invest in programs that address labor shortages, such as the Talent First Here campaign designed to attract new construction recruits.

Between retirements and changing demographics, the construction industry will find itself with hundreds of thousands of jobs to fill by 2028. According to the ACC, construction offers well-paying and rewarding jobs, but the industry must be positioned as a career of choice in order to attract candidates. both underrepresented demographic segments and science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

“The government’s recent initiative to promote the skilled trades as the first choice career path for youth and young adults is a welcome first step, but there is still a long way to go since the skilled trades are only one part of the problem,” the brief states. “The construction industry also needs engineers, project managers, project coordinators and other professionals.”

Investing in programs to address labor shortages, including prioritizing skilled immigrants and funding apprenticeship placements, will provide a viable and inclusive employment sector for Canadians, while attracting a workforce -diverse and skilled workforce, says CCA.

In the meantime, the CCA calls for the creation of an independent advisory body to guide infrastructure investments and align federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous infrastructure needs.

The stability of having multi-year project pipelines, based on evidence and advice from independent experts, would enable the development of the skilled workforce and encourage private sector investment, the CCA said.

ACC also recommends the adoption of modern procurement strategies to encourage productivity, innovation and the use of alternative delivery models that support risk sharing.

“The federal government’s outdated approach to procurement leaves little room for creative solutions and fair risk sharing,” says CCA. “Innovative procurement can improve productivity, save costs and shorten construction project timelines.”

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