Canada Pushes $7.5B in Infrastructure Stimulus

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2020


Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canada Infrastructure Bank would be launching a C$10 billion ($7.5 billion), three-year infrastructure plan to boost renewable energy initiatives, create jobs and recover from economic downturns experienced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the plan’s announcement, Trudeau was accompanied by Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna and Michael Sabia—the former chief executive officer of provincial pension fund Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec—who was named chairman of the CIB in April.

The Plan

According to Bloomberg, the CIB was created in 2017, with a federal funding budget of $35 billion for revenue-generating infrastructure projects that are in the public interest and attract private capital.

However, various reports criticize the CIB, claiming that the government has struggled to make good on the 12-year spending program. Currently, the CIB is working to name a new CEO for the bank in coming weeks.

Through a new strategy, the Canadian government plans to commit $10 billion over three years through a new CIB Growth Plan, which is projected to create 60,000 jobs across the country.

“By investing in infrastructure, we are strengthening our communities and ensuring good jobs for today and in the future,” said Trudeau. “We will continue to do what it takes to support Canadians through this crisis, safely get our economy back up and running, and get people back to work.”

The Growth Plan plans to invest in five major initiatives:

  • $2.5 billion for clean power to support renewable generation and storage and to transmit clean electricity between provinces, territories, and regions, including to northern and Indigenous communities;
  • $2 billion to connect approximately 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband in underserved communities, so Canadians can better participate in the digital economy;
  • $2 billion to invest in large-scale building retrofits to increase energy efficiency and help make communities more sustainable;
  • $1.5 billion for agriculture irrigation projects to help the agriculture sector enhance production, strengthen Canada’s food security, and expand export opportunities; and
  • $1.5 billion to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure so Canadians can have cleaner commutes.

Additionally, the plan will allocate $500 million for project development and early construction works in order to accelerate the delivery of CIB-invested projects.

The plan’s announcement is part of the government’s campaign to create over one million jobs to rebuild from the pandemic, and its more than $180 billion commitment to invest in new infrastructure across Canada.

While the plan has been praised by Trudeau, McKenna and Sabia, John Gamble, President and CEO of Canada's Association of Consulting Engineering Cos. noted to Engineering News-Record that the plan lacked larger construction investments in ports and transportation—key sectors in keeping long-term economic growth.

The Canadian Construction Association also noted on the plan, stating that it was a “promising step” but that it would need to seek more “urgency” in regard to the flow of funds and project management.

Sabia countered the criticism, stating that money would “move out quickly” and that the plan was “very real, very concrete.”

Other COVID-19 Infrastructure Plans, Progress

Back in June, United States House Democrats introduced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill calling for an increase in funding for road and bridge repairs, in addition to funding for clean drinking water.

Titled the Moving Forward Act, the infrastructure bill is aimed at providing:

  • $100 billion for broadband;
  • $100 billion for low-income schools;
  • $100 billion in funding for public housing;
  • $70 billion for clean energy projects;
  • $30 billion to upgrade hospitals;
  • $25 billion for drinking water; and
  • $25 billion for the postal service, among others.

Although the plan was ready to move forward for voting prior to the July 4 recess, Democrats hadn’t yet outlined how the bill would be paid for. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has pointed out though, that with the Federal Reserve approval to keep interest rates near zero, “there's never been a better time for us to go big.”

Forbes reported at the time that COVID-19 had caused unemployment claims to reach 1.5 million, lower than its peak of 6.9 million in March, but brings the total number to 45 million. While the legislation is hoped to be passed, as Trump has been pushing for an infrastructure bill, some suspect that it will hit obstacles moving forward with Republicans in Congress.

Last month, the Associated General Contractors of America released its state-by-state employment data analysis, which found that while jobs have still mostly declined year over year, 31 states have added jobs between July and August. The new annual figures detail how the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined demand for construction projects after a strong start to the year, according to the organization.

Additionally, the Associated Builders and Contractors published a construction backlog, showing a rebound to 8.0 months in August. While the backlog showed an increased by 0.2 from July’s reading, the report remained a half-month lower than the year prior. This data was according to the ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator, from an ABC member survey conducted from Aug. 20-Sept. 1.

View all of PaintSquare Daily News' COVID-19 coverage, here.

   

Tagged categories: COVID-19; Economy; Energy efficiency; Government; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Jobs; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Upcoming projects

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