Manitoba Heavy Construction Association

Fall 2023

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2 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2023 A SUPPLEMENT TO THE FREE PRESS By Chris Lorenc W e're hearing a great deal about trade corridors these days, for good reason. The world is looking for what Canada has to sell. Demand is driven, in part, by the projected growth of the global middle class – from today's 1.8 billion to five billion by 2030, by some estimates – but also due to the thirst for the natural resources we possess, such as critical minerals, to fuel the technological advances driving what's being called the 4th industrial revolution. This could be Canada's moment. But not if we can't deliver what we produce. On that point, those in the business of shipping and receiving are more than a little concerned. Canada's ranking on a global survey of quality of trade transportation infrastructure is bad – we're ranked 32nd, below Azerbaijan. That 2019 survey result from the World Economic Forum looks worse when put up against our 2009 rank; we were 10th. This is a national economic and security issue. More than 65% of our economy rides on trade, and trade rides on our Chris Lorenc is President & CEO of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association and the Western Canada Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association Trade corridors investment PTH1 and 1A interchange at Portage la Prairie. Graham Construction & Engineering photo IS AN INVESTMENT IN OUR FUTURE highways, rail and airline, and through our inland, border and marine ports. It's all got to be connected, seamless, efficient and reliable. But as the WEF survey indicated, our customers and those relying on the trade transportation network have little faith we can get the goods to market. We need to address that, now. Our competitors have signed the same trade agreements with developing markets and they've laid out the plans to ensure their trade infrastructure has the capacity to reliably deliver. Canada's provinces entirely agree – the country needs a long-term, coordinated investment strategy for trade infrastructure. At their July meeting, the Premiers' Council of the Federation issued a communique calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to hold a First Ministers meeting on the issue of competitiveness and strategic infrastructure. "Trade corridor infrastructure is critical to enhance and secure the vital supply chains, transportation networks, and market access needed to maximize our economic potential and prosperity," they said. They endorsed the principles set out in the Canada Trade Infrastructure Plan proposed by the Business Council of Canada, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada West Foundation, Canadian Construction Association, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Civil Infrastructure Council Corporation, and the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association. This is a critical issue for Manitoba. Sitting in the middle of Canada, this province has unequalled geographic advantages with trade routes in all four cardinal directions. More than half of Manitoba's GDP flows from trade. We simply could not afford to fund our social programs and critical public services without the revenues trade spins off to the economy and, therefore, public coffers. That's why the leaders of Manitoba's main political parties place a high priority on investing in Manitoba's trade corridors. You'd be hard-pressed to find a provincial politician, on the campaign trail to October 3, who does not see the value of trade to Manitoba's economy, and the pent-up potential in the fact the province possesses 29 of the 31 critical minerals the world is clamoring for, including rare earth elements. But elevating Manitoba's trade profile to seize on such opportunity requires a long-term strategy backed by sustained, significant investment in the provincial highways capital program. It is time to upgrade the mandate of Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure as a key economic growth ministry by aligning investment plans with trade-based opportunities through a policy framework that prioritizes infrastructure investment through a highest ROI to GDP lens. On the next page, you can read more about how those who are running to be your next premier would plan for economic growth, and investment to ensure Manitoba's provincial roads and highways can move people to jobs and goods to market. When you come across your candidates for office in the next week, ask them to talk about their party's plans for investing in trade and trade infrastructure. Our future prosperity rides on it. BUILDING SAFELY EVERY DAY Delivering integrated construction solutions throughout Manitoba

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