Construction sector concern over Environment Minister’s comments

Canada’s construction industry is demanding clarity from the Government of Canada on future investment in new road infrastructure after comments made earlier this week by Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Speaking in Montreal on Monday, Guilbeault said the Feds will not invest any more money in road infrastructure. While Guilbeault explained that support to provinces for maintenance will continue, existing road infrastructure “is perfectly adequate to respond to the needs we have.”

The remark stirred fierce reaction from across Canada, and the Minister attempted to walk back his statement on Tuesday creating further confusion.

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) raised concerns over Canada’s infrastructure needs.

“We are dealing with an acute housing crisis,” read a news release from the CCA.

“The government is asking our industry to build 5.8 million new homes but is overlooking the investment needed to support these homes and communities.”

A report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) estimates that additional housing construction will require $107,000 in public investments per new housing unit. This amounts to a total of $620 billion in public funding needed – an additional $375 billion beyond the current planned budget.

“These new communities need new roads,” said Mary Van Buren, President of the Canadian Construction Association.

“People need to be connected to their jobs, their schools, and their hospitals,” adding, “we not only need the road networks to support their movement; we also need to shore up our trade infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges, and highways.”

On Wednesday during Parliamentary Question Period, Conservative Party of Canada leader, Pierre Poilievre asked Prime Minister Trudeau to clarify the remarks of Guilbeault. Poilievre rose to ask how people in the Yukon, rural Alberta, or Newfoundland could be expected to get to their jobs riding a bicycle. His question was met with cheers from his party and jeers from the Liberal side of the House.

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