Construction Industry Hails $70 Billion Budget Splurge

Construction Industry Hails $70 Billion Budget Splurge

The building and construction industry has welcomed $70 billion in infrastructure investments across Canada.

The building and construction industry in Canada has welcomed a number of initiatives in the federal budget, including a new Building Canada Plan, a commitment to skills and training and measures to reduce the tax burden on small business.

Released on Thursday, a key measure of the budget was a $70 billion investment for infrastructure construction, including $47 billion for the new Build Canada Plan, $7 billion for infrastructure on First Nations Lands and $10 billion to improve federal infrastructure assets.

Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association says that combined, the new investments will help ensure fluidity and predictability while guaranteeing the progress of the past seven years is not undermined by funding gaps between programs.

“Sustained investment in infrastructure is critical to Canada’s long-term economic growth” Atkinson said in a statement. “The investments announced today will help governments across Canada continue the process of infrastructure renewal and set Canada on the path to a more globally competitive economy. We look forward to working with the federal government to ensure a seamless and efficient implementation of these investments.”

Atkinson also applauded a number of other measures, including steps to boost training, promote free trade zones, facilitate border initiatives and harmonise apprenticeship standards along with an announcement that the Gas Tax Fund will be indexed at two percent from 2014/15 onwards.

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He says Canada’s construction industry will need to attract hundreds of thousands of new workers by 2020 in order to keep pace with retirements and increased demand – warnings which follow an earlier report predicting enormous demand for tradespeople in over the next decade in British Columbia alone.

“Many construction firms are experiencing shortages of skilled workers today because past government efforts to align training with job market opportunities failed. The commitments announced today should help remedy this situation” Atkinson says.

“Getting skills development right will be critical for the construction sector moving forward. With construction demand and industry retirements expected to rise throughout the decade, there is no time to waste.”

Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) President Deep Shergill agrees, albeit lamenting the failure of the budget to tackle housing affordability or the domestic underground economy.

“This is a fiscally prudent, forward-looking budget” Shergill says. “We congratulate Minister Flaherty for setting the right priorities.”

By Andrew Heaton
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