Shantel Lipp

Spring finally feels like it may be on its way. As we say goodbye to winter, we have also been preparing for another construction season.

Some of that preparation for our association is learning where government is at and sharing with government what matters to our industry. Each year, as the province and municipalities take stock of their situation and look around at what progress there is to be made, we must make sure we are there to offer our support while also making it clear what would improve our working relationship.

It is important that we share what will make our industry stronger, but we have an additional message we believe resonates with government. It is how our industry contributes to a growing economy.

Across Western Canada, heavy construction associations encourage governments to recognize the value of investing in trade infrastructure. Here in Saskatchewan, we know our growth depends on trade. Those buying Saskatchewan commodities want to know that this province has the infrastructure to move what they are purchasing. Investing in the infrastructure that will get those goods to market more efficiently will make the province more competitive in the world. That means more trade, which grows our economy. That economic growth can then generate revenues that support areas such as health care, education and social programming, making Saskatchewan an even better place to live.

Our association encourages the Saskatchewan government to recognize the value of making five-year commitments. It helps build our reputation in the world for being a reliable and competitive trading partner while telling voters the government of this province invests purposefully and strategically so a return on that investment is delivered.

That was one of the messages I delivered on what is an important day for many in our industry – the day the provincial government releases its budget, which this year was March 22. I congratulated the Saskatchewan Party government on delivering a budget that included an increase. I also described your interest in learning more about the Ministry of Highways capital program breakdown and how I will be sharing its impact on our industry.

It was a good opportunity to share that our industry hopes for a broader discussion on planning and investments over a longer term going forward.

But a relationship isn’t built and maintained in a day. I often meet with government officials and welcome members who wish to join me at those meetings. I am encouraged by those who are eager to share their experiences and insights during those meetings.

It was great to see all of you who came to the MLA reception on April 4. If you have not been to this event before, I encourage you to talk to those members who have participated. It is a solid opportunity to have a conversation with those elected to form government as well as members of the opposition and share what you feel they need to know about your current challenges and successes. It is often the stories from our members that stick with MLAs and help them to remember what matters to our industry when making decisions.

Those stories were shared during the Spring Kick-Off and Industry Awards Gala. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn, mingle and celebrate together in Regina, reminding us all why we choose this industry for our livelihoods. There were representatives from all three levels of government there to share with our industry and to hear from our members and executive. We thank them all for participating and consider their interest an opportunity to better our relationship to continue to do more together in the future.

I recognize there is an opportunity at the municipal level and that there are relationships to maintain. While the provincial government is a source of a lot of work for our members, I know many of you are doing work for municipalities. I am in regular contact with the City of Regina and the City of Saskatoon, but I also find opportunities to connect with other municipalities through my relationship with SARM and SUMA. There is important work needed by these governments that I know members are supporting, and I continue to pursue these relationships in support of you.

This has been a long winter, but it is good to see spring arriving. As we get ready for the construction season, I look forward to moving these relationships ahead as you get ready to begin this year’s projects.