Canadian Construction Association weighs in on new federal budget
The Ottawa-based industry group said the budget "affirms the value of infrastructure investment in driving economic recovery".
The 2021 federal budget drew qualified approval from the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), as the group said it delivered on four of its pre-budget asks, including increased support for green and trade-enabling infrastructure investment, workforce capacity building, a commitment to beginning a 25-year infrastructure plan, and investment to advance innovation in construction.
But officials with the Ottawa-based CCA – which is the national association representing Canada’s non-residential construction industry – also said the budget doesn’t address how to expedite already committed funds.
“The budget endorses the valued role of the heavy civil, institutional, commercial and industrial construction sector to building back better.” said CCA president Mary Van Buren. “However, an equal commitment is needed to facilitate the quick and unfettered roll-out of these proposed investments.”
With improved coordination, communication, and transparency between federal, provincial, and municipal governments, Van Buren added, infrastructure investments can be delivered more efficiently, addressing the real and immediate needs of communities, speeding up the start of projects, minimizing boom-bust cycles, getting people back to work, and securing a steady supply chain.
Other items in the 2021 budget that drew comment from the CCA include the proposed Apprenticeship Service aimed at connecting 55,000 first year apprentices to jobs in the construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades will provide education, training and jobs for youth, Indigenous people, women, racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities and other groups traditionally underrepresented in the trades. “This directly aligns with the industry’s workforce diversity efforts through CCA’s Talent Fits Here campaign and we are highly encouraged by its inclusion,” CCA said. “Additional attention needs to be paid to growing the participation of these same groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) so they may lead and support the industry’s digital transformation.”
CCA also said that the two-year $500 million Canada Community Revitalization Fund is a “welcome announcement, and the commitment to funding Infrastructure 2050 is a positive step forward.”
“CCA is encouraged to see increased funding over three years to the federal Internal Trade Secretariat to accelerate its work reducing interprovincial trade barriers within Canada, a long-standing policy that CCA continues to champion,” CCA said. “CCA looks forward to continuing our work with the federal government on building an inclusive and green economy, driving innovation, boosting employment opportunities, and supporting Canadian businesses. Strengthening investor confidence and reducing red tape are also important outcomes.”
In total, the new budget unveiled $101.4 billion in new spending, with a projected deficit of $354.2 billion for 2020 and dropping to $154.7 billion in the current 2021-22 fiscal year. The focus of the budget was on pandemic recovery and resiliency with spending in three key areas: raising the federal minimum wage, $30 billion towards a national childcare plan, and $17.6 billion towards cleantech investments.