The federal government’s national infrastructure assessment process comes at a critical time, to help boost Canada’s trade profile and productivity for a post-pandemic economic recovery and to plot the country’s future prosperity.
That is the message in the Canada West Foundation’s submission to Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, who called this spring for input to her government’s planned national infrastructure assessment.
“The primary objective for the National Infrastructure Assessment, therefore, should be to prioritize the development of a long-term plan to improve Canada’s trade corridor infrastructure as Canada’s major competitors have done and which reflects global best practice,” the CWF paper said.
“This approach must include a permanent, long-term planning horizon which recognizes that the planning imperatives for trade infrastructure work on a 25-to-50-year timeline compared to the four to five-year government electoral cycle.”
The Foundation noted that the National Infrastructure Assessment, Building the Canada We Want in 2050, comes at a critical time for the country.
Canada’s competition on the global trade scene have already positioned themselves to build the infrastructure necessary to capitalize on new or expanding markets.
“An infrastructure assessment is also critical to formulate policy responses to new economic security challenges posed by supply and production chain vulnerabilities. Without this information the country cannot formulate meaningful responses. Our political allies and economic competitors are using infrastructure assessments to gain economic and security advantages. This assessment offers a chance for Canada not just to catch up, but lead.”
The CWF submission reflects many of the same concerns and suggestions made in the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association’s submission to McKenna earlier this summer.
“What we are seeing regionally and, in fact, nationally from a number of economic and industry associations is the recognition that Canada’s trade-enabling infrastructure is in need of strategic investment,” said Chris Lorenc, president of MHCA and WCRHCA. This includes, most immediately, a recapitalization of the federal trade infrastructure investment program.
“We need a national strategy that would allow governments to cooperate to identify the investments required in existing and new trade transportation infrastructure, using merit-based criteria, to prioritize nationally or regionally significant projects that can elevate our trade productivity domestically, continentally and globally.”
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