This year has been one for the history books.
The early stages of 2020 started rather routinely, with our association taking steps to have its voice heard and urge different levels of government to lean on our industry.
January and February saw us contact the federal and provincial governments, respectively. The Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association, in unison with Manitoba and Alberta, shared our collective vision with the federal government for western and national economic growth.
We wrote a policy paper with intentions of spurring discussions with the feds in terms of the economy and the importance of investing in trade-enabling infrastructure.
The following month, we targeted the provincial government and voiced our frustrations with single-window procurement. Unnecessary delays in awarding tenders became commonplace for many of our members. This needed to be changed.
In March, we learned what we already knew – the 2019–20 provincial budget estimate remained status quo. The overall budget was $648 million, a drop of more than $50 million from last year’s budget. However, the $358 million set aside for capital expenditures slightly increased from 2018–19.
In April, our province and our country found itself firmly in the grasp of the COVID-19 pandemic. It had been present for a couple of months previous, but it wasn’t until this point when governments took the steps to shut down our economy with the temporary closure of non-essential business.
It was in April when we reassured our members that when life does return to normal, Canadians will look to our industry as one that can lead us to a stronger economic future.
And we were correct in that belief. In May, we heard Premier Scott Moe say, “Over the next two years, our government will invest $7.5 billion dollars in…highways, municipal infrastructure and other important capital projects designed to build a strong Saskatchewan.”
It was great news for our industry, for our members and for the Saskatchewan economy.
The road to economic recovery here and across the country starts with our industry.
Our provincial government shares that sentiment. The money being spent now will create a legacy serving the economy for the next 50 years.
The funding represents a $2 billion increase over the government’s existing capital plan. The resulting projects are expected to support 10,000 jobs. More than $300 million of the funds are intended for highway projects, including surface upgrades and passing lanes, with almost $50 million dedicated to upgrades to municipal roads and airports.
There’s a bevy of infrastructure projects on the horizon that should keep our members humming. Who would have thought at the start of the year, when there was uncertainty among industry members, that we would be tendering major projects for the foreseeable future?
It’s safe to say, 2020 has been anything but predictable.
Here’s to a safe, healthy and prosperous year ahead.