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ACEC applauds federal infrastructure spending — with provisos


Reactions to last week’s federal budget were predictably positive as the new Liberal government of Justin Trudeau carried through on its campaign promise to boost funding for infrastructure.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada (ACEC) applauded the government’s overall investment in infrastructure through various programs to $120 billion over 10 years.

In its analysis on March 22, the same day the budget was delivered, ACEC noted that the government is increasing its contribution to the eligible cost of infrastructure projects to 50% (until now it has given 33%).

Right away there will be $3.4 billion to upgrade public transit systems, $5 billion for investments in water, wastewater and green infrastructure, and $3.4 billion for “social infrastructure,” such as affordable housing, childcare and recreational infrastructure.

In ACEC’s press release the following day, March 23, John Gamble, president and chief executive officer, stressed the benefits of infrastructure spending: “As ACEC stated in its pre-budget submission to the Minister of Finance, study after study demonstrates a link between infrastructure investment and economic performance; infrastructure investment grows the economy, strengthens communities and protects the environment.”

At the same time, ACEC noted that the budget contains much to support environmental sustainability and that it had proposed a rigorous environmental assessment process based on science. But ACEC cautioned that it “will be seeking assurances that processes will be efficient and won’t encourage frivolous or vexatious delays to infrastructure and resource projects that are important to the economy.”

ACEC is also disappointed that the resource sector was promised “minimal” assistance, and that tax relief for small businesses has been deferred.

The government indicated that the responsibility for PPP Canada, the federal Crown corporation that has been overseeing public private partnerships, will now lie with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities rather than the Minister of Finance. The mandatory PPP screening will be eliminated.

The media had been predicting that the Liberal government would create a new infrastructure bank, but this was not mentioned in the Budget.

To read ACEC’s analysis of the budget delivered on March 22 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Ottawa, click here.

To read ACEC’s press release of March 23, click here.