Canadian Consulting Engineer

Pre-budget submission has sensible recommendations

In the recent Throne Speech, the federal government committed to a new five-year National Infrastructure Program to be developed by December 2000 in consultation with the provinces, municipalities and...

December 1, 1999  Canadian Consulting Engineer

In the recent Throne Speech, the federal government committed to a new five-year National Infrastructure Program to be developed by December 2000 in consultation with the provinces, municipalities and the private sector, and to be launched with the 2001 Budget.

Early in October, ACEC submitted a series of recommendations on infrastructure to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, which had then begun its annual pre-budget consultations. ACEC received a letter of invitation to appear before the Committee on November 4th to present its case and to answer questions with respect to the submission.

In its brief to the government, ACEC urged Ottawa not to wait until 2001 before committing federal funds to begin addressing Canada’s $60 billion national infrastructure deficit. There are immediate needs that, if left unattended, could set back the quality of the nation’s infrastructure, which is, incidentally, a key asset to Canada’s international competitive advantage.

ACEC argued that rich natural resources would have little economic value without an efficient network of waterways, railways and roadways to get them to market. As part of an export-oriented economy, the efficiency of Canada’s “gateway” infrastructure — airports, border crossings and international communication networks — is especially critical to its export industries.

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Closer to home, ACEC drew attention to the high quality of life that Canadians enjoy, which is intricately linked to the quality of infrastructure such as water distribution and waste systems, in addition to safe roads.

Specifically, ACEC called on the federal government to:

1 Create a long-term investment strategy for Canada’s highway and municipal infrastructure beginning with the federal Budget in 2000. It would be aimed at strengthening Canada’s competitiveness and supporting its quality of life;

2 Calculate the total asset value of national infrastructure and include that value on the federal government’s Balance Sheet so that Canada’s infrastructure assets can be managed effectively;

3 Develop, with the help of the CE industry, standards on level and timing of maintenance expenditures required to sustain the infrastructure’s life cycle;

4 Target federal spending in the Year 2000 Budget to those infrastructure areas of greatest immediate need;

5 Recognize that our successes in Canada can be exported by using new technologies in infrastructure development and renewal.

6 Develop, in consultation with private sector stakeholders, an infrastructure strategy that is inter-modal and municipal in nature;

7 Take the leadership, in consultation with private sector stakeholders, in developing long-term national funding alternatives for public infrastructure, including public-private partnerships and toll systems.

Members who are interested in obtaining a full copy of ACEC’s submission are invited to visit the ACEC web site at http://www.acec.ca in the Business Development section.

ACEC member-organizations: Association des ingnieurs-conseils du Qubec, Consulting Engineers of Ontario, Nova Scotia Consulting Engineers Association, Consulting Engineers of British Columbia, Association of Consulting Engineers of Saskatchewan, Consulting Engineers of Alberta, Association of Consulting Engineers of Manitoba, Consulting Engineers of New Brunswick, Consulting Engineers of Yukon, Consulting Engineers of the Northwest Territories, Consulting Engineers of Newfoundland

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