Canadian Construction Association praises 2012 federal budget

Overall the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) is “pretty happy” with today’s federal budget since it stayed the course on long-term infrastructure funding. CCA president Michael Atkinson was heartened to see no cuts to existing infrastructure programs but also the addition of a few new minor ones.

“We’re very happy to see that the government is sticking to its guns on ensuring its commitment to infrastructure continues, despite its effort to get its fiscal health in order,” he told the Daily Commercial News from Ottawa Thursday evening.

Over the next two years, the Canadian federal government will spend nearly $12 billion to support provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure through existing initiatives.

Among the new infrastructure programs include $150 million over two years from repairing existing community infrastructure; $99.2 million over three years to help with flood containment from last year; approximately $275 provided to First Nations bands for school construction and $330.8 million over two years to build and renovate on-reserve water infrastructure.

Atkinson was also pleased to see the budget also address proposed reform to the Canadian immigration system, “particularly aligning things like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to labour market demands and needs to make our immigration more fast and flexible and looking at how better to make it work for employers and for industry generally.”

Concerning Environmental Assessment project approvals, the government is committed to bringing forward legislation to achieve the goal of one project, one review in a clearly defined time period.

“We believe that means they’re going to carry through with some of the reforms to the Environmental Assessment Act that had been called for by our industry to avoid the duplication and unnecessary cost and delays that are associated with Environmental Assessment in Canada,” he said. “We’re very encouraged to see that.”

The decision to cap employment insurance rate increases to no more than five cents a year until the operating account is balanced is a good one said Atkinson.

“There is no greater job killer than payroll taxes.”

Overall, Atkinson was encouraged by the budget’s language concerning many of the areas critical to the construction industry.

“We didn’t expect a lot, but it’s a good budget from our perspective in the sense that it stays the course in the key areas that we think are extremely important, primarily in long-term infrastructure re-investment,” said Atkinson.