Canadian Consulting Engineer

CHAIR’S REPORT: ACEC pleased with Standing Committee conclusions

ACEC is pleased with the report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (see story on next page). Its recommendations on infrastructure are very much in line with the recommendations put...

January 1, 2003  By Pierre Shoiry, P.Eng., Chair

ACEC is pleased with the report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (see story on next page). Its recommendations on infrastructure are very much in line with the recommendations put forward by ACEC in its written submission and in its subsequent in-person presentation to the Committee in the fall. We can now only hope that our federal political leaders will act. They must recognize that Canada’s infrastructure debt merits the same priority now as the country’s fiscal debt did 10 years ago. Indeed, the significant impact on the health, safety and productivity of Canadians also suggests repayment of the infrastructure debt must be tackled with comparable urgency.

Although not one dollar of last year’s $8.9 billion federal budget surplus was allocated to pay down our infrastructure debt, there is evidence on two fronts that the government is prepared to respond.

The Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund is a step in the right direction. Established in the 2001 federal budget, the fund will provide $2 billion for large-scale projects. While this is a significant sum, it is nonetheless grossly insufficient, and barely covers the annual accumulating infrastructure deficit.

The federal government committed in September’s Speech from the Throne to a 10-year infrastructure program. This pledge is important because it acknowledges the long-term nature of infrastructure projects. But such a pledge is meaningless without an adequate financial commitment. The next budget must include a much greater allocation of funds for the development and ongoing maintenance of our vital infrastructure.

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Canadians deserve and expect a well-funded, permanent national strategy that ensures the competitiveness and sustainable growth of our cities and regions, and improves quality of life for all Canadians — in short, a strategy that delivers clean water, safer disposal of wastes, safe and reliable highways and a more efficient national rail system.

Recently, both the Prime Minister’s Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance have recommended that Canada develop and implement long-term and well funded transit/transportation programs and a sustainable infrastructure program. We must capitalize on this support and momentum and continue to explain to elected officials and opinion leaders the importance of acting now.

ASSOCIATION OF CONSULTING ENGINEERS OF CANADA

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