by Shantel Lipp Shantel Lipp
Shantel Lipp

This is the time of year when the public sees our members’ commitment to working with the government in action. 

There are construction zones across the province right now in support of the Saskatchewan government’s goal of building and upgrading 10,000 kilometres of highways in the province by 2030. More than 300 kilometres of highway are being seal coated to extend their life, including Highway 1 east of Moose Jaw. Other highways are being resurfaced and repaved, including Highway 55 east of Prince Albert.

Passing lanes are being completed, such as those on Highway 5 from Saskatoon to Highway 2. Bridges are being repaired or rebuilt, including the Highway 6 bridge over Regina’s Ring Road for traffic heading into southern Regina. Airports are seeing improvements, such as the runway being extended at Sandy Bay. More than 100 culverts are being replaced. 

You are hard at work during these summer months to complete projects that make it possible for families to get from home to work and school. Farmers can move their machinery to get to fields so they can later move their crops to terminals. Businesses can move their products to buyers and receive supplies to manufacture more products. Industries are growing because of this ability to move around the province and beyond it, connecting Saskatchewan and all it has to offer to the world. Traffic can flow – safely and more efficiently – because of your work. 

We want to see a more consistent flow of investment from our provincial government. As you know, I have been working with the government, so its representatives understand the needs of our industry. But my work with the government goes further than that. Our province needs the government to recognize the value of consistent investment that reflects a long-term view of the infrastructure needed by industries in this province to keep our economy strong. 

Consistent investment in Saskatchewan’s trade infrastructure is a message to the world. It says that this province is prepared to continue being a strong exporter of the goods and resources that countries around the world require. It tells people interested in living and working in this province that the government is dedicated to ensuring opportunities continue here so making the move is in their best interest, now and into the future. It says to voters that this government invests purposefully and strategically so that investment delivers a return.

Adopting longer-term investment commitments to grow the economy is about more than having a goal for how many kilometres of highway the province will address. The Ministry of Highways needs to start with looking at how it tenders projects, such as those our members are working on right now in the province. 

Consistent investment is also about looking to the east and west of our province at what those governments are doing. It means allowing for carryovers, which is something the Manitoba government does. Allowing contractors to carry over a portion of the Ministry of Highway’s budget would mean some certainty of work in the next construction season. 

Even better than that are the investment commitments of five years. That is what will allow our industry to become even more efficient and productive because our members will be able to see what opportunities are available, and the level of investment being projected so decisions can be made about priorities and plans. Businesses in our industry can decide on their own investments in equipment and labour. 

Our members contribute to this province by being able to support goals set out in a memorandum of understanding Saskatchewan signed with Manitoba and Alberta to strengthen the economic corridors between our provinces.

This MOU focuses on four areas of cooperation:

  • Improving efficiency of inter-provincial highway and rail networks
  • Encouraging the federal government for infrastructure funding and national supply chain solutions
  • Keeping their economies competitive and growing capital investment
  • Harmonizing regulations to support businesses, industries and shippers

So, while the public sees work zones busy with the activity of employees and equipment, we want those drivers and passengers to also recognize what projects – undertaken by our members – mean for the future prosperity of our province. It is in their interest that this work is done. We want them to identify the role of government in those projects – as the primary customer of our industry – and hold those politicians accountable for wisely investing tax dollars in trade infrastructure.