by Shantel Lipp Shantel Lipp
Shantel Lipp - Portrait

When you know what you have to say matters – and you are clear on how it matters to others – it makes it easier to speak up.

We are seeing yet another status quo provincial budget. In a growing province, we know that is not enough. This year, highways received less than it did in the 2023-24 budget. The capital budget is down $18 million, but we know our industry is prepared to build more than $404 million worth of work.

 This year’s budget announcement wasn’t just a matter of the provincial government not keeping up.  There was nothing new in it – no new work at all. I encourage SHCA members to read more in the article on page 24 about how this year’s budget compares to other years, back to 2018-19, and what SHCA is calling for going forward – not just for our industry, but to encourage the economic growth of our province. 

I want to thank all of you who attended the MLA reception on March 4. We appreciated the opportunity to gather at the Legislative Building to catch up with one another and to also share with MLAs what we need them to know about our industry and our relationship with the provincial government.

We know we play an important role in this province achieving goals that matter to our economy and quality of life. While I am in contact, sharing and receiving information with ministry officials and Minister Carr, it is important for them to hear from you as well so they can learn how those of you on the frontlines are impacted by their decisions. 

MLAs often listen to hear what is happening in their constituency, which is why it’s important that those working on projects across the province speak to elected officials. Those voters will decide this fall who will be getting the seat for that area. What affects us affects those projects. 

This year’s budget announcement wasn’t just a matter of the provincial government not keeping up.  There was nothing new in it – no new work at all.

I would also like to update you on a few other matters related to the federal government. We are letting the public know how our province and communities will be affected by politicians’ statements and decisions in a few different ways. 

There was the statement about the funding of road infrastructure projects in Canada made by the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault. We were among many industry groups across Saskatchewan who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ask him to clarify the federal government’s position on funding future road construction in Canada.

We reminded him and his government that Saskatchewan’s economy heavily relies on a robust network of roads because all industries and sectors depend on that road system. We pointed out that in 2022, Saskatchewan reached $52.6 billion in exports, which was the highest figure recorded in our province’s history. 

We made it clear that if we were unable to upgrade and improve our network of roads in Saskatchewan, our economy would falter, leading to a decline in jobs. That letter was signed by leaders of the Construction Associations of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Auto Dealers Association, Saskatchewan Trucking Association, Regina and District Chamber of Commerce, Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, North Saskatchewan Business Association, Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), the Association of Consulting Engineer Companies of Saskatchewan and the Prairies & Northern Canada representative of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. At the top of the list of signatories was our association. 

We have also been vocal about changes to the Canada Community Building Fund (CCBF). The CCBF is used for infrastructure projects such as roads, transportation, wastewater and sewer, fire services, and tourism and culture. 

The federal government is looking at adding affordable housing to the mix. That would be a clear case of putting the cart before the horse. Building infrastructure, such as servicing lots for housing projects, comes before building units. 

SUMA recently voiced concerns regarding this proposed change to the fund, which would impact decisions made by municipalities. Our association shares that concern. If new rules are implemented by including affordable housing over investment in infrastructure, municipalities will not be able to build critical projects. 

The federal government will dictate what municipalities can and cannot build. The approach to addressing our infrastructure needs should be collaborative, not arbitrary. Every community has different priorities for infrastructure, and those decisions are best made through a process that includes communities.  

It is important that we keep speaking up about how decisions made by elected officials affect our industry and the people who depend on the work we do. We will continue to speak up this year to draw attention to the value our industry delivers to this province and its communities, and how SHCA members’ work is relevant to the economy and quality of life of citizens.