The April 19 release of the Federal Budget lays some important groundwork for a strong economic recovery and delivers against four of the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) pre-budget asks, including increased support for green and trade-enabling infrastructure investment, workforce capacity building, a commitment to beginning a 25-year infrastructure plan and investment to advance innovation in construction. While these new programs are welcome, the budget does not address how to expedite already committed funds, says CCA, the national association representing Canada’s non-residential construction industry.
“The budget endorses the valued role of the heavy civil, institutional, commercial and industrial construction sector to building back better,” said Mary Van Buren, CCA president. “However, an equal commitment is needed to facilitate the quick and unfettered roll-out of these proposed investments.”
With improved coordination, communication and transparency between federal, provincial and municipal governments, infrastructure investments can be delivered more efficiently, addressing the real and immediate needs of communities, speeding up the start of projects, minimizing boom-bust cycles, getting people back to work and securing a steady supply chain.
News of greater investment aimed at building a greener, more sustainable economy aligns with the CCA’s recently released white paper, Strength, resilience, sustainability. CCA recommends that the federal government also adjust its procurement criteria to accelerate the adoption of new processes, materials or technology, by taking on more of this risk, which currently rests with contractors.
Workforce capacity development is essential to Canada’s economic recovery and our long-term global competitiveness. The goal of the proposed Apprenticeship Service aimed at connecting 55,000 first year apprentices to jobs in the construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades will provide education, training and jobs for youth, Indigenous people, women, racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities and other groups traditionally underrepresented in the trades. This directly aligns with the industry’s workforce diversity efforts through CCA’s Talent Fits Here campaign and we are highly encouraged by its inclusion in Budget 2021. Additional attention needs to be paid to growing the participation of these same groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) so they may lead and support the industry’s digital transformation.
Creating a program to temporarily subsidize new hiring at $1,100 per month for every new employee and continuing the wage and rent subsidies will help small and medium-sized businesses in Canada’s construction sector contribute to employment, job creation and economic growth.
The complexities of infrastructure require leadership, long-term vision and consistency to deliver optimum benefits to all Canadians. The two-year $500 million Canada Community Revitalization Fund is a welcome announcement, and the commitment to funding Infrastructure 2050 is a positive step forward.
CCA is encouraged to see increased funding over three years to the federal Internal Trade Secretariat to accelerate its work reducing interprovincial trade barriers within Canada, a long-standing policy that CCA continues to champion.
CCA looks forward to continuing our work with the federal government on building an inclusive and green economy, driving innovation, boosting employment opportunities and supporting Canadian businesses. Strengthening investor confidence and reducing red tape are also important outcomes.
An investment in sustainable infrastructure is an investment in Canada and our communities, and the construction industry is willing and able to partner with the government. We remain committed to helping our country re-build its economy and improve the quality of life of all Canadians.