by Shantel Lipp Shantel Lipp

With the start of a new year often comes a feeling of optimism. We are starting fresh and putting the difficult year that was 2020 in our rear-view mirror.

Our industry was one of the few that weathered the storm and persevered through some challenging times. Yes, many of us adapted to changes and altered our routines to meet new health and safety guidelines to keep working through government-issued shutdowns and to keep our employees healthy.

Our hope is that a new year brings a semblance of normalcy back to our lives, both at work and at home. We already can look forward to a busy year ahead. If there was a positive to pull from last year it was several big-ticket projects are planned for our province over the next few years.

Saskatchewan will likely be the main beneficiary in a $10-billion commitment from the federal government to support irrigation projects in the prairies. This infrastructure plan will span the next three years, with approximately $1.5 billion expected to result in 700,000 acres of irrigated land. It’s expected to create close to 60,000 jobs.

The Lake Diefenbaker irrigation project is a top candidate to receive much of this federal support. And we should expect to play a major role in the development of this project for years to come.

Combine this funding from the federal government with a record $437.4 million in tendered projects announced last summer by the provincial government. That’s a full plate for our members.

Early in 2020, 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.”

Obviously, this is great news for our industry as it assures there’s work to be done for the foreseeable future.

This 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.

The pandemic that still lingers today wreaked havoc on global economies. The road to economic recovery here and across the country starts with our industry.

Here’s to a busy season for our members and a prosperous and healthy new year!