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CDAO has “grave concerns” about Ontario’s infrastructure funding cancellation

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February 29, 2012 by Andrew Snook

The Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO) is disturbed by comments made by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association/Ontario Good Roads Association conference on Monday, Feb. 27. He stated that billions of dollars earmarked for infrastructure projects are no longer available and that infrastructure programs have been cancelled.

Clive Thurston, president of Ontario General Contractors Association, said he was shocked at the announcement.
“It was totally unexpected,” he said. 

The CDAO stated that it had met with Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Bob Chiarelli in mid-February, shortly before the release of the Drummond Report, to discuss “the importance of addressing the ever-growing infrastructure deficit.” 

We were still talking at that time of maintaining the infrastructure plan and that was based on the 10-year plan that we had all worked on and supported. It certainly has severe implications,” Thurston said. 

He said his organization understands the situation the province is in, dealing with a $16-billion deficit that could potentially grow at an alarming rate, but the Province of Ontario should realize that it has been “weathering the economic storm of the world” through the construction industry and its stimulus and infrastructure spending.

“We’re providing jobs which provide tax revenue that the province desperately needs,” he said. “It’s what’s keeping people working and it’s not just the direct construction jobs; it’s the spin-off jobs to the suppliers and manufacturers and everyone else that’s involved in the construction industry that benefits from a healthy construction industry.”

According to the CDAO, the Conference Board of Canada stated every real dollar spent on public infrastructure generates a $1.11 increase in economic output.  

“This funding was available to address the infrastructure deficit with the intent of supporting the Ontario economy and creating much needed jobs in the province and the cancellation of these programs is very disappointing,” said Joe Accardi, CDAO Chair.

Thurston said he fears that the Premier’s decision will force the economy to slow down during a time when it needs to be robust and that it would negatively affect the municipalities’ efforts, since the federal stimulus money would not be available without provincial funding.

Minister Chiarelli said the decision would not compromise public safety, but the CDAO said it does not know how that will be accomplished, since infrastructure deficit would continue to grow rapidly without stable funding in place.

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