by Shantel Lipp Shantel Lipp
Shantel Lipp

Whenever a new year begins, it is common to think about what is ahead in the months to come. 

Looking at where we are at is a good place to start when considering what is possible in the future. We know right now that Saskatchewan is strong. The provincial economy is performing better than many other parts of Canada. 

That strength is indicated by measures such as merchandise exports, which is the dollar value of goods being sold to other countries from Saskatchewan. In the first week of this month, the Saskatchewan government promoted that merchandise exports in November 2022 were 44.5 per cent higher than they were a year earlier and came in at a total value of more than $5 billion.

November was not a fluke. That increase was part of a pattern seen through most of 2022. Merchandise exports increased 43.5 per cent in the first 11 months of the year, compared to the same period in 2021. 

The provincial government tied that accomplishment to Saskatchewan’s strong and stable supply chain. Saskatchewan’s highways played a role in that accomplishment. 

If you can’t move it, you can’t sell it. That reality was reaffirmed in a report produced by the Canada West Foundation that you might recall from 2022. 

The report, From Shovel Ready to Shovel Worthy: The Path to a National Trade Infrastructure Plan for the Next Generation of Economic Growth, was initiated by the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association (WCR&HCA), to which the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association belongs.

Nations of the world pay attention to the trade infrastructure in other countries. The world needs what Canada produces and Saskatchewan, in particular, has a lot to offer the world, but producing it is not enough. We must move it through our country and beyond its borders.

Saskatchewan needs the rest of the world to have confidence that what we are producing for export will be moved through Canada efficiently and reliably so we, as a trading partner, are competitive in the world. 

The report recommends a national plan for trade infrastructure. It reminds governments that they decide on investments in trade infrastructure, but it is other nations who notice when governments don’t consistently invest in projects that will ensure trade infrastructure remains reliable and competitive. The plan should select projects for investment that make Canada more competitive. Those are shovel worthy projects that support the movement of goods and people in an efficient and effective manner. 

It is more than heavy construction associations bringing forward the recommendations from this report to provincial and federal governments in Canada. These recommendations have been endorsed by several associations and organizations concerned with the current investment, the lack of coordination and planning on a long-term strategy and the state of the federal trade corridors fund.

As we move into 2023, Saskatchewan will continue to depend on exports to ensure the provincial economy remains strong. In our province, the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association will continue to work with the provincial government to encourage consistent investment in our highways.

Consistent investment in Saskatchewan’s highways is a signal to the world that this province is prepared to continue being a strong exporter of the goods and resources that countries around the world require.

Saskatchewan’s government has a goal of building and upgrading 10,000 kilometres of highways in the province by 2030. The members of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association are prepared to work with the government to meet that goal. As the voice of the industry, the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association will make sure government knows what the heavy construction industry needs to get the job done.

The Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association will also continue to work with regional and national partners to promote consistent and strategic investment in trade infrastructure beyond this province. Saskatchewan’s economic strength is a benefit to the entire country and the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association is proud of its role in developing that strength.