Infrastructure priorities on Pallister government’s ‘100 Days’ agenda
Manitoba’s re-elected Progressive Conservative government released this week the Infrastructure minister’s new mandate letter, outlining infrastructure investment as a priority over the next 100 days.
The mandate, delivered to all portfolios September 18, notes that job creation and private-sector investment are key to the government’s economic action plan, and for the 2020 budget as it relates to infrastructure projects.
The Infrastructure minister’s mandate notes the office will “(w)ork with the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association and other private sector agencies to develop a plan to allow the private sector to assume a more meaningful role in service delivery with the outcome of lowering ‘soft costs’” and also “(d)evelop a dedicated fund for infrastructure projects that stimulates private-sector investment and job creation for inclusion in Budget 2020.”
In the election campaign, the Progressive Conservatives pledged to increase the Highways Capital budget by $50 million – from $350 million to $400 million – in four years, deliver multi-year budget programs and to release annual reports on the condition and needs of highways and bridges.
Highlighting investment and economic returns within the department’s to-do list is a good sign, says MHCA President Chris Lorenc.
“We have contacted senior department administration to follow up because we are encouraged and want to be part of a solid roll-out of these priorities so Manitoba see the greatest economic return from its infrastructure priorities and investment,” Lorenc said.
The MHCA has developed a road map for boosting economic growth through strategic, sustained infrastructure investment. The ELEMENTS OF A MANITOBA ‘HIGHWAYS & TRADE TRANSPORTATION’ INVESTMENT PLAN: A key enabling pillar in Manitoba’s economic-growth action plan encourages the province to renew Manitoba’s highways and bridges, so the province can make the most of trade opportunities opening globally. Further, it encourages a provincial-industry working group be set up to reframe government-wide infrastructure investment programs “to ensure that trade transportation assets support productivity and competitiveness.”
Another highlight on the 100-day hit list is the reintroduction of the Public Sector Construction Projects (Tendering) Act, which was not passed prior to the election call. The proposed bill would eliminate any requirement that firms bidding on large provincial construction projects be affiliated with a union, or that workers pay union dues, as has happened in the past.
“We are asking for more detail on the items in the mandate letter but, as they sit, we see real potential for Manitoba can see the return on investment clearly laid out in repeated economic analyses of the benefits of infrastructure funds and programs,” Lorenc noted.