Long-term infrastructure planning now law in Ontario
The Ontario government has joined Quebec with legislation requiring it to engage in long-term strategic planning for infrastructure. The two provinces are the only ones in Canada to have such rules.
Ontario’s Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, passed on June 4 as one of 11 bills the government passed before the legislature wound up its spring sitting.
The Act will require the province to table a long-term infrastructure plan in the legislature within three years. Subsequent plans will need to be tabled once every five years. The rule is good news for consulting engineers and their clients as it enables them to be able to plan ahead with confidence on construction projects.
Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) issued a statement welcoming the passage of the Act. Barry Steinberg, chief executive officer of CEO also said they were pleased it recognized the role of engineers, which had been missing from the draft legislation.
“Professional engineers play an integral role in bringing the government’s infrastructure plans to life, we are very pleased this legislation recognizes our public duty,” said Steinberg. “The draft Bill was of great concern to us; it made no mention of the role of engineers while prescribing a specific role for architects. Given the stipulations of the Professional Engineers Act, this had to change; the legislation had to maintain balance. We are happy with the solution we developed with Minister Duguid’s staff and officials.”
Steinberg also praised the Act’s inclusion of asset management plans. “CEO has consistently supported infrastructure investment as a result of sound planning. By requiring these plans and mandating they be consistent in their form, content and timing, government will be able to make sound, and accurate decisions to prioritize projects and manage their full lifecycle cost. This is what is necessary to provide innovation, value and public safety for Ontarians,” said Steinberg.
The Ontario legislation also included “Community Benefits Agreements” which will require contractors on large-scale infrastructure projects to develop recruitment programs for local construction workers. The goal is to provide stable work for more marginalized groups like youth, women, aboriginals, veterans and newcomers to Canada.
Ontario also passed Bill 91 the Building Ontario Up Act on June 4. This legislation implements the government’s budget and provides record investments in public infrastructure of more than $130 billion over 10 years. The figure includes $31.5 billion for transit, roads, bridges and other priority infrastructure across the province through the Moving Ontario Forward plan.
To read the Ontario government’s press release of June 4, click here.