Throne speech recommits to infrastructure, but offers scant details
The Liberal minority government plans to continue investing in infrastructure of “all types” as it works to chart a course out of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
The throne speech, delivered Sept. 23 by Governor General Julie Payette, recommitted to a range of building initiatives, but offered only rough details on what areas Ottawa intends to focus and no financial specifics.
Using infrastructure work as one of its implements, the recovery plan centres on restoring employment to pre-pandemic levels by creating over one million jobs.
“This will be done by using a range of tools, including direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers,” Payette said.
She singled out public transit, energy efficient retrofits, clean energy, rural broadband and affordable housing as five areas the government plans to focus its efforts over the next two years.
Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) and the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO), among other construction groups applauded the emphasis on infrastructure.
“Investing in infrastructure and shovel-ready projects will create immediate job opportunities and address Canada’s infrastructure needs,” Sean Strickland, executive director of the CBTU, said in a release.
Andy Manahan, the executive director of the RCCAO, said he hopes federal government will follow-up the commitments with fast-tracked funding for shovel-ready projects shortly.
“Construction employs about 400,000 people in Ontario,” Manahan said. “Putting our residential and civil contractors to work on both state-of-good-repair and new infrastructure projects would create much-needed jobs, kick-start our ravaged economy and build a more resilient future.
The speech came as cases of COVID-19 continue to climb dramatically. Daily new cases across Canada have tripled in the past month, further complicating the government’s effort to look past the pandemic. The Liberal minority will need to secure the support of portions of the opposition in an impending confidence vote to avoid triggering an election.