Economic growth impaired by highways budget cuts: MHCA president
The successive years of cuts and under-expenditures on the highways budget is acting as a drag on Manitoba’s economy and its potential growth, MHCA President Chris Lorenc told diners at the association Annual General Meeting’s Awards Breakfast today.
“Manitoba must see its highways budget rise from the current level of $350 million – a level that not only digs us further into the infrastructure investment deficit, but also acts as a drag on our province’s rate of economic growth,” Lorenc said.
Lorenc was among the speakers at the breakfast, where Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler handed out highways construction awards to industry members.
Schuler announced the highways capital budget will remain at $350 million for 2019/20. He also noted that the provincial government expects the Lake Manitoba/Lake St Martin to start in 2020, but added that the recent court decision out of the national pipeline challenge has ramped up the complexity of major infrastructure projects and the responsibility for indigenous consultation.
Schuler released the highways tender advertising schedule, setting out the highways that will see repairs or construction in the coming year.
MHCA members at the breakfast heard from Don Leitch, president of the Business Council of Manitoba, who said among the basic necessities– people, power, water and transportation — required for economic growth to hit potential, he is somewhat concerned about Manitoba’s transportation infrastructure.
“Everything rides on a road,” Leitch noted. “Our goods may eventually move by rail, water or air, but getting them from the point of production to the customer will always rely on roads. Good roads pave the way for strong trade. Prosperity.”
Leitch stressed that the Business Council supports the provincial government’s agenda to eliminate the deficit and strike a fiscal balance, but there has to be more to the economic policy.
“Reductions in the highways budget over multiple years, have in fact, hurt everyone; they hurt our economy – they have an impact on the people commuting to jobs and on the shipment of goods to their markets.”
To read the highways tender advert schedule click here.