Infrastructure Investments Drive Productivity, Report Finds

CALGARY, Feb. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - The latest research from the Canada West Foundation concludes that Canada's governments should not hesitate when it comes to maintaining a high level of investment in public infrastructure because it is a key driver of economic productivity.

At the Intersection: The Case for Sustained and Strategic Public Infrastructure Investment, is based on over 200 studies and shows a strong link between public infrastructure investment and long-term economic growth. Currently, Canadian public and private infrastructure assets, which are used daily and enable our economy to function, are valued at $4 trillion.

"The Canadian economy has to become more productive or we won't be able to maintain social programs in the face of an aging population without significantly increasing taxes. The good news is that investing in public infrastructure can boost economic productivity," says Canada West Foundation Senior Policy Analyst and co-author of the report Casey Vander Ploeg.

At the Intersection proposes five recommendations to help grow the economy and maintain our quality of life:

  1. Sustained and strategic investments in Canada's public infrastructure should be continued.
  2. Priority should be given to public infrastructure that enhances economic performance.
  3. Governments should encourage innovative approaches to the design of public infrastructure.
  4. Governments should not focus exclusively on new infrastructure and should give due consideration to renewing existing public infrastructure.
  5. Ongoing analysis and evaluation of recent public infrastructure investments should be conducted and the lessons applied to future investments.

"It would be a shame if we decided to wiggle out of our fiscal problems by offloading the cost of repairing our existing infrastructure onto the next generation," says Vander Ploeg. "Similarly, if we fail to consider the economic value of investing in public infrastructure, we risk undermining the economic prosperity we need to maintain our high quality of life in this country."

Municipal Infrastructure Forum members endorse Report

The Canada West Foundation is pleased the report has been endorsed by MIF members as well as other municipal infrastructure stakeholders. The report provides further evidence of the importance for governments to act quickly to adopt the MIF principles released in October 2012.

The MIF membership includes the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Construction Association, Canadian Public Works Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Urban Transit Association, Engineers Canada, Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada have also endorsed the report.

About the Municipal Infrastructure Forum

The Municipal Infrastructure Forum was established by FCM in partnership with key infrastructure stakeholder groups. The goal was to build consensus around the importance of adequate public sector investment in infrastructure and to generate a series of practical recommendations to help inform the decisions of public policy makers. Together the Forum participants have put together five key principles which provide a 20-year roadmap for governments to provide secure, stable investment that will help put our economy on a strong foundation and keep pace with Canada's growing needs.

MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE FORUM

PRINCIPLES FOR THE LONG-TERM INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN (LTIP)

  • Secure, stable investments.  LTIP must provide certainty and predictability to cities and communities over the long-term.
  • Supporting economic growth.  LTIP must put our economy on a strong foundation by guaranteeing that future infrastructure investments keep pace with the growing needs created by economic and population growth.
  • Flexibility: Keeping communities - large and small - strong.  Large cities and smaller communities, and different regions of the country, have different needs; one solution will not fit all. LTIP must be flexible in its design in recognition of the unique challenges faced by all municipalities across the country.
  • A balanced approach with smart partnerships.  LTIP must enable municipalities to strategically invest in local infrastructure priorities while also providing predictability over time.   Private sector involvement must be considered as one tool in the municipal toolkit.  However, P3s are not a panacea for Canada's infrastructure challenge and cannot address our infrastructure needs alone.
  • Building municipal capacity.  Federal investments must help build the capacities of all cities and communities to plan, build and maintain their infrastructure over the long term.  Ensuring that municipalities have access to tools such as asset management, peer to peer best practices, and/or planning resources will help all governments track the value of these investments and to tackle tough economic, environmental and social challenges in the future.

The Canada West Foundation thanks the Canadian Construction Association for funding this independent public policy brief.

Canada West Foundation is the only think tank dedicated to being the objective, non-partisan voice for issues of vital concern to western Canadians. For over 40 years, through its research and commentary, the Foundation has contributed to better government decisions and a stronger Canadian economy.

For more information about At the Intersection: The Case for Sustained and Strategic Public Infrastructure Investment, visit www.cwf.ca.

SOURCE: Canada West Foundation

For further information:

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Michael Sznajdruk
Account Director
Hill+Knowlton Strategies
1.613.786.9951 michael.sznajdruk@hkstrategies.ca

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