MHCA Executive Committee gives ‘go-ahead’ on public push over budget cuts
Executive dismayed at province’s stonewall on boosting infrastructure investment
The MHCA’s campaign to make the public aware of the damage that budget cuts have done to the provincial economy and the condition of highways and roads will hit the airwaves in mid November.
The decision was made Wednesday, October 31, the date by which the MHCA requested the provincial government to respond with meaningful progress on three requests:
- Restore the Highways Capital budget to an annual minimum $500 million
- Accelerate Manitoba Infrastructure’s service review and move inhouse delivery to the competitive market
- Release the report on Manitoba’s transportation system infrastructure investment deficit (understood to be ~$6 billion), with annual and five-year rolling budgets supported by a capital-asset management strategy
The Executive Committee was informed there has been no useful response to any of the three points from the elected branch of government. All indications make clear the highways capital budget will not rise from its paltry and irresponsible $350-million level – a level last seen in 2009.
The public awareness campaign will see the MHCA, joined by the Merit Contractors Association, undertake pre-campaign focus-group testing to better understand the public’s opinions of the condition of their highways and roads, and the views on public investment in core infrastructure.
“We’ve given the provincial government ample time and facilitated multiple opportunities to collaborate not just with the MHCA, but with a group of 6 leading business organizations. The business organizations collectively asked the province to establish a working group to jointly lay out a plan to get back to strategic, sustainable investment in core infrastructure, including highways, over the next five years,” Lorenc said. “Sadly, our association and the broader industry groups have been stonewalled by the elected branch of this government.
“This government appears willing to ignore the impacts upon the highways system which supports trade, and the impacts on industry, including destabilizing its workforce.”
The short-sighted fiscal policy out of Broadway has stunted Manitoba’s potential for economic growth. “We know that for every $1 invested in core infrastructure, our GDP is boosted by about $1.30 – that’s real, proven return on investment that this government has given up.”
Following the focus groups, MHCA and Merit Contractors will take to various media, including radio, in mid-November to get the message out the impact severe cuts in provincial investment in highways and roads is doing to economy, as a result.
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