Manitoba Heavy Construction Association

Spring 2023

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2 SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2023 A SUPPLEMENT TO THE FREE PRESS S ome big decisions by our political leaders have set Winnipeg and our province up to compete for business, across the globe. It is an exciting time, not just for business owners, but for Manitobans looking to turn the job into a career; for high school students eyeing their prospects for building a life that will allow them to stay here, near family and friends. Manitoba has struggled to retain residents, but some key investment signals from both the city and provincial governments will help set up our economies for real growth, the kind of future that attracts new residents. Top among the investments are: • the agreement to get pipes in the ground at CentrePort Canada's southlands, unlocking a billion or more dollars in potential development • design studies for widening Kenaston Boulevard and for the northwest extension of Chief Peguis Trail to link to CentrePort and Route 90 • twinning the Trans-Canada into Ontario, a bottleneck on our national highway • upgrading the Perimeter to freeway status, reducing hazards and impediments to the smooth, seamless movement of goods and people. It is hard to over-state the importance of these investments in Manitoba and Winnipeg's future. For example: CentrePort Canada, fully built out, delivers more than 98,000 person- years of employment, and $1.18 billion in tax revenue to the province alone. And, as North America's largest tri-modal inland port, it opens the gates to doing business – faster, cheaper, better – with the continent and beyond. Manitoba sits at a conspicuously strategic spot in Canada. We have direct access to international trade gateways to the north and south, and we are the hub of moving freight east and west. Trade supports 53% of Manitoba's economy. So, getting our trade corridors, including our urban regional roads, upgraded, updated and seamlessly connected is critical to our economy. The investments will spin off returns in multiple ways: new capital, new ventures, new Manitobans. Equally important, the dividends, in the form of revenues to governments, will flow to all citizens and help our communities address the serious issues of crime, addictions and homelessness. We all deserve to lead healthy, happy and productive lives. Without growing revenues, we can't shore up our social programs, nor respond with initiatives to support the arts, to plant trees, upgrade parks and recreation facilities. And there would be no money to build new lines of transit or lay down dedicated, separated paths so pedestrians and those cycling can get to their daily destinations safely and efficiently. All of this was apparent in the recently approved City of Winnipeg budget that voted to move toward upgrading our trade corridors. Premier Heather Stefanson has also put trade infrastructure investment at the centre of her government's economic growth strategy, with key funding announcements to highways, CentrePort and for municipal transfers. It is good to see Broadway and Main Street collaborating on issues fundamental to economic growth, agreeing this province can do big things if we work to elevate our trade profile and productivity continentally and globally. But we can't do it alone. Moving goods to and from global markets demands the attention of a federal government that has a clear understanding of – and commitment to – the role trade plays in Canada's prosperity. Trade generates 65% of Canada's GDP. Yet, Canada invests much less in trade infrastructure, compared to our closest competitors for global markets (see sidebar). Many in Canada and abroad who rely on seamless, efficient trade transportation infrastructure don't think our country can deliver. In 2008, the World Economic Forum's survey on trade infrastructure reliability ranked Canada 10th, reflecting a decade of strong investment in trade corridors. By 2019, Canada fell to 32nd, behind Azerbaijan. A damaged global reputation allows our closest competitors to outsell us. This is why five leading business groups are calling for a national trade infrastructure investment plan, to identify and strategically invest in the critical projects holding the highest return on investment – greatest boost to GDP. The MHCA, through the Western Canada Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association, is working with the Business Council of Canada, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Construction Association and the Canada West Foundation to gather political and business support for significantly increased investment, through a National Plan for Trade Corridor Infrastructure. An investment in trade is an investment in our national economy. That is why Premier Stefanson has committed to champion the need for a national plan for trade corridor infrastructure when the Premiers' Council of the Federation next meets in July in Winnipeg. It's time to put trade, and trade infrastructure, back at the centre of Canada's economic growth policy. Our future rides on it. WINNIPEG, MANITOBA poised to COMPETE with the WORLD Chris Lorenc is President and CEO of the MHCA and the Western Canada Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association Canada's economy is more trade-dependent than most of our competitors* Trade accounts for 65 per cent of Canada's economy and supports 2.9 million jobs, yet we're cutting investment in the infrastructure that gets our goods to market. We have to invest to compete. *Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis Global trade: We're letting the competition eat our lunch • Canada's economy is more dependent on export than its competitors, yet invests much less in its trade infrastructure – at $21B annually, it invests half that of Australia (with a similar economic profile) • Dollar for dollar, nations with long-term, stable infrastructure investment strategies reap higher return to GDP than those countries with sporadic, or "volatile," investment approaches • Canada's has a "reactive" approach to infrastructure investment; its volatility is 3.6 times more than its Western competitors for global trade • Canada's investment volatility called "potentially its biggest barrier to export success" • 30% of Canada's GDP is derived from exports; 18% of Canadian jobs are tied to exports • Every additional $1M invested in transport infrastructure supports 151 jobs across Canada, $7.5M in wages and $17M in export-related GDP activity • 30% of business, across the sectors, consider infrastructure a barrier to exports Canada's "reactive" approach to infrastructure investments is hurting our growth Colin Corneau photo 100 YEARS OF DELIVERING EXCELLENCE IN WORKMANSHIP Highly skilled & invested in innovation, we have a multidisciplinary workforce and competencies to exceed the most stringent quality standards. 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