December 18 , 2013
The success of Canadian business depends on modern and efficient infrastructure says Chamber of Commerce
OTTAWA--One of the most critical challenges facing Canada is invisible. It's the steady deterioration of the public infrastructure - roads, water mains, sewers, bridges - that allow people to do business and live well. Confronting the major costs facing governments at all levels will test the foresight and cooperation of political leaders and officials.
"Nobody cuts a ribbon when a new sewer pipe is installed. It's just not a dramatic moment," said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "But, thousands of Canadians idling in their cars because of traffic congestion, or bridge delays, can tell us what investments in infrastructure can mean in quality of life and productivity."
In a report released today, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce argues that Canada needs a long-term, predictable, flexible and strategic infrastructure investment strategy. This strategy must include targeted investments in Canada's major economic hubs, gateways and public transit systems.
There is an indisputable strong link between investment in the core public infrastructure of roads, transit and utilities and productivity performance in all sectors of the Canadian economy. Equally clear are the consequences of underinvestment.
"The success and competitiveness of Canadian business depends on modern and efficient infrastructure," said Beatty. "Fortunately, we are starting to see renewed attention to the vital importance of our core public infrastructure. The challenge the nation faces now is to ensure current infrastructure investment levels are not viewed as a one-off contribution to recession fighting but rather as the start of a new sustained level of investment."
For the past two years, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has listed inadequate investment in our public infrastructure as one of the top 10 barriers to Canadian competitiveness. Bringing infrastructure in Canada back to the level needed to support prosperity will not be easy. It will require an ongoing commitment by all levels of government and active engagement with private sector stakeholders. We have to change the dialogue from "catch-up" investments or "economic recovery" to investing in our competitiveness as a country.
"A strategic vision, along with a public dialogue that explains the importance of effective infrastructure to economic growth, will set the stage for public acceptance of the need for these higher levels of investment," concluded Beatty.
Our partners agree:
"The chronic under-investment in Canada's water systems, roads and transportation systems, electrical grid and other public infrastructure has dire repercussions for our quality of life, our economy and our national competitiveness," said Michael Bernstein, President and Chief Executive Officer, Capstone Infrastructure Corporation. "Canada urgently needs a long-term infrastructure investment strategy to prevent further decay and to prioritize and plan for the future. This report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce presents concrete steps to improve how we manage, fund and deliver the critical infrastructure Canadians depend on."
"The need to rebuild and properly maintain our critical public infrastructure is not an option." said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association, "It is an absolute necessity if Canada wants to ensure its future economic prosperity, its competitive standing in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, and to retain its admired quality of life. CCA supports many of the recommendations made in this report, and we look forward to working with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and other likeminded stakeholders to ensure that adequate and sustained infrastructure funding is a key public policy priority for all levels of government in Canada."
"As the world's only manufacturer of planes and train focused on creating the most advanced mobility solutions, we see a clear linkage between public infrastructure and productivity," says Pierre Pyun, Vice-President of Government Affairs for Bombardier Inc. "Modern and efficient infrastructure is critical to economic competitiveness, sustainability and quality of life. We therefore support the recommendations offered by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in its recently published report, The Foundation of a Competitive Canada: The Need for Strategic Infrastructure Investment, for it offers a compelling roadmap for the first steps towards effective infrastructure investment in Canada."
"All levels of government have a responsibility to support long-term investments in public infrastructure," says Kim Allen, FEC, P.Eng., Chief Executive Officer of Engineers Canada. "Owners must be encouraged to build and maintain infrastructure in ways that enable them to withstand whatever challenges users, the climate or time can throw at them."
"Marine pilots conduct commercial vessels in and out of the country's ports and on the waters vital to Canadian shipping. We have a first hand appreciation of the key role that public infrastructure plays in facilitating growth and we believe that sustained investment is essential to maintain a safe marine transportation system and a competitive economy. We appreciate the leadership of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on this issue and welcome its initiative to bring in-depth focus to it" said Simon Pelletier, President of the Canadian Marine Pilots' Association.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing some 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions.