The Canadian Construction Association is helping to create a long-term plan for sustainable infrastructure investment
By Mary Van Buren, Canadian Construction Association
Every aspect of our modern lives is touched by the infrastructure designed, built and maintained by the construction industry.
It’s schools for our kids and the hospitals that care for us. It’s the reason we have clean water and that our homes and businesses are heated or air-conditioned and running with electricity. It’s the roads, bridges and trade corridors that connect our communities not only to each other but also to the global marketplace.
An investment in infrastructure is an investment in Canada’s growth economy and the health, safety and wellbeing of Canadians.
It’s time to invest in Canada.
Investing in infrastructure
As the industry’s national advocate, the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) has been working to help shape a long-term plan for sustainable infrastructure investment – one that is aligned with the current and future needs of provinces, municipalities and Indigenous communities. One size does not fit all. More consultation and early engagement need to happen.
With reports that Canada has fallen from 10th to 32nd in terms of global trade infrastructure, CCA has been working in partnership with the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association (WCR&HCA) to improve investment in the trade corridor. Scaling up our trade infrastructure will build supply chain capacity, support green innovation and emerging technologies, create transformational jobs and fuel our global competitiveness.
Our industry can be the path to green and the road to economic prosperity, but we need supportive policies and a national plan backed by a long-term investment strategy. More is needed if Canada wants to compete globally, expand into new and emerging markets, attract investors and boost employment.
Canada’s proposed first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment is an important step to creating a longer-term vision for Canada’s infrastructure planning – one that is expected to include establishing an independent advisory body that can provide balanced and expert-guided advice. We need to move from quick fixes to a strategy that focuses on long-term solutions and value for Canadians.
Building workforce capacity
Building workforce capacity and developing the workforce we need would go a long way in addressing both our immediate and future infrastructure needs. Skilled tradespeople cannot be created overnight. We need to build a pipeline of talent. More attention needs to be placed on attracting youth, women, Indigenous peoples, immigrants and foreign workers to address the shortage of skilled workers in construction.
CCA’s Talent Fits Here initiative is our industry’s united effort to build workforce capacity by shifting perceptions and showing the diversity of opportunities that exist in construction. We are also excited to be collaborating with the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum and other partners to promote the new Apprenticeship Service program. This program will provide financial support to employers across the country who hire new first-year apprentices in 39 Red Seal trades. These incentives will help small businesses hire more workers and give apprentices from under-represented groups more training and opportunity.
Important work is also being done by associations and employers to address diversity, equity and inclusion within the industry. Companies across Canada are recruiting more from underrepresented groups and developing HR policies and programs focused on organizational change. Associations have put in place programs to introduce students to the trades or help newcomers find good paying jobs in construction.
The federal government must be prepared to lead the way by adapting procurement policies to support fair competition, innovation and shared risk. Engaging with contractors earlier and moving away from the lowest bid model will encourage the use of new processes, better practices, alternative energy and more sustainable materials. CCA’s annual Meech Lake meeting with government leaders resulted in a commitment to establish a working group on procurement modernization. We are eager to collaborate on ways to remove restrictive RFP requirements and increase participation.
Building for today’s communities and tomorrow’s Canada requires long-term planning, but the investment pays dividends in return by accelerating economic recovery, increasing jobs and the diversity of opportunities available in the sector, combatting climate change and supporting growth and innovation.
Stay in touch!
Canada will be counting on the construction industry to build back better. You can count on CCA to be a collaborative partner to the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association, providing helpful tools, sharing best practices across the country and being your voice with the federal government.
Stay in the loop by subscribing to CCA’s newsletter at bit.ly/ccasubscribe, by following @ConstructionCAN on Twitter or by looking up Canadian Construction Association on LinkedIn.
Mary Van Buren is the president of the Canadian Construction Association.