Wednesday
Aug102016

Let's not miss Opportunity Drive on infrastructure

Strong infrastructure to move our goods = a strong economy.

Canada is the second largest country in the world with 9.985 million km2 to its credit.  The vastness and
geographical variety across the country and from province to province are what make Canada unique; are a source of pride to Canadians', are an economic driver, and yet present a constant challenge.  

98% of businesses in Canada are categorized as small business.  These businesses have products that need to get to market, to other businesses and to consumers in their own communities, and they need the
infrastructure to do it, stay competitive and reach their growth potential.  

As found in the provincial Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Freight Guidelines, “freight movement plays a major role in the provincial economy, generating large revenues and supplying jobs for hundreds of thousands of employees. According to Transport Canada, in the year 2011, trade between Ontario and the United States amounted to over $284 billion. 38% of Ontario’s economy comes from freight-intensive industries. In that same year, Ontario led Canada in exports to countries other than the United States, with approximately $40 billion in goods exported. Ontario’s economy is multi-faceted, ranging from farming to manufacturing to 21st century knowledge economy businesses. All  of these depend on the movement of freight in some way.”

The MTO defines freight movement as “the transportation of goods by road, rail, air, water and even pipeline. It includes: the movement of raw natural resources; the movement of refined goods for manufacturing, like steel, or auto parts; and the movement of finished products for markets like furniture or food products.”

It’s why businesses and business groups such as the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce are advocating loudly for infrastructure, to be precise - trade-enabling infrastructure.  Trade-enabling infrastructure is roads, rail, and waterways that can move the goods our businesses produce and receive the goods that are needed to keep local economies moving forward.

Infrastructure funding was a large part of the 2016 federal budget, and it’s been said that Ontario and Canada are approaching a crucial infrastructure juncture in that much of the built infrastructure from post World War II (roads, bridges, etc) is reaching the end of life and requires a major overhaul.  With tens of
millions in projects required in the City and County of Peterborough alone, never mind across the country, and the limited ability of municipalities to responsibly foot the bill, it is imperative that policies and programs are developed to provide focused, timely and innovative solutions.   

Next month chambers of commerce and boards of trade will be gathering at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM to make suggestions to government around various issues including infrastructure
and how to power forward the Canadian economy.  One way is a coordinated infrastructure strategy that incorporates all of the tools in the toolkit, including all levels of government and the private sector, uses funding models, is consistent in its application and recognizes the importance of all modalities: road, rail, water and air. 

There is a lot of ground to cover to move goods in Canada.  We need to be at the leading edge of
infrastructure innovation in order to meet and conquer our challenges and ensure Canada is ready to move the world through our borders. 

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