Budget allocates $13.5 billion to help fund infrastructure deficit
Ontario’s continued stable investment in the province’s infrastructure renewal plan in yesterday’s provincial budget has been met with praise from members of the Construction Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO)
“Infrastructure is the backbone of economic prosperity,” says CDAO chair Clive Thurston. “A strong infrastructure provides the means for growth in the manufacturing sector and helps attract a strong labour force to the Ontario market. Investment in infrastructure projects today, provides for the growth of our future.” Every $100 million invested today in infrastructure projects results in a $114 million in spending within the Ontario economy, according to a Conference Board of Canada study.
The budget has allocated $13.5 billion in funding to help address the growing infrastructure deficit across the province. “We are encouraged the government has maintained its level of infrastructure investment year-over-year,” Thurston notes. Funds will be used to for hard capital projects such as roads, bridges, sewer and water mains, water treatment plants and will also fund bricks and mortar projects such as schools and hospitals. This commitment provides support to the Ontario government’s ongoing 10-year plan to invest in the province’s strategic infrastructure.
“However we are very concerned with the government’s failure to deliver on over $1 billion of infrastructure in the 2012/13 fiscal year,” says Thurston. The budget papers reported that the province invested $1.016 billion less than committed to a year ago. This “failure to launch” indicates a problem with timely project implementation. “If this continues the province will fail to meet its infrastructure commitments to the people of Ontario. We will ask Minister Murray to immediately address this issue.”
The CDAO is a collaborative organization of 14 associations and organizations, representing a broad cross-section of professions, which design and build infrastructure projects in Ontario. CDAO’s primary goal is to advocate for infrastructure investment and provide municipal and provincial governments a collective forum to seek input and advice from stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Consulting Engineers of Ontario, a CDAO member, which represents engineering firms, also issued a news release applauding Ontario’s commitment to long-term, infrastructure planning in yesterday’s budget and The Big Move.
“In spite of temptations to think only of the short term, this government has released its third, consecutive budget that commits to billions in infrastructure spending,” saidBarry Steinberg, CEO’s chief executive officer.
“This is an infrastructure budget from an infrastructure government,” he said. “The budget bravely takes steps in the right direction.”
“It’s now clear that the government is a champion of long-term spending on infrastructure and transportation,” he added, “but the big news is The Big Move, the government’s re-affirmation that it’s sticking with the $50-billion, infrastructure-transportation plan by Metrolinx, the province’s regional transportation agency.”
“The budget promises to increase investments in transit and lay the foundation for major initiatives in The Big Move,” Steinberg said. “Also, yesterday morning, Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure and Minister of Transportation, said that his government is moving forward with The Big Move.”
“So far, three levels of governments have found $16 billion out of the $50 billion needed for The Big Move,” Steinberg said. “Where will the remaining $34 billion come from?” The budget provided only hints. One source is a network of road tolls, announced in yesterday’s budget, but tolls would likely raise only $25 to $45 million, according to the Toronto Region Board of Trade. On June 1, Metrolinx will release suggestions for more sources of revenue.
“We’re hopeful that Metrolinx and Ontario will stick with a long-term view,” Steinberg said. “Chronic under-investment has created a massive infrastructure deficit in this province. Roads, bridges, transit systems and other critical infrastructure in Ontario are assets owned by the people of Ontario, and like all assets, they require investment and re-investment over the long term.”
“When you look at improving transportation and infrastructure, we’re in for a marathon, not a sprint,” he added.