November 8, 2019
Ontario 2019 Fall Economic Update Reaffirms $144-Billion in Infrastructure Spending
Province Tackling Number of Critical Issues of Keen Interest to CCPPP Members
Ontario reaffirmed its commitment to invest $144 billion on infrastructure over the next decade in its 2019 fall economic outlook and fiscal review. This unprecedented level of funding includes several major transit, highway, schools and hospital projects.
A full list of the province’s project pipeline can be found in the Infrastructure Ontario Market Update, which was released in September during an event with CCPPP.
The fall economic update, released Wednesday, demonstrated the government’s commitment to tackle several important issues CCPPP members are confronting in the infrastructure sector.
These priority areas for attention include including greater engagement with Indigenous communities, efforts to address the shortage in skilled trades and recognition of the implications of climate change for future proofing infrastructure. These same areas will also be the focus of several in-depth panels at our upcoming annual conference on November 18 and 19 in Toronto.
The province noted it is actively working with the City of Toronto to address its transit needs, is equally committed to work with the federal government to strengthen the federal-provincial relationship and is keen to help municipalities have more flexibility with their budgets to find savings and drive efficiencies.
In its 2019 budget, the Ontario government laid out its plans to fund a number of transportation projects including $67 billion for provincially owned and municipal transit priorities, such as four new subway projects in the Greater Toronto Area and Stage 2 of the Ottawa LRT project, and $22 billion in highway improvements and expansion.
In the economic outlook, the province noted it is continuing to collaborate with Toronto to enable the delivery of Ontario’s new subway transit plans for the GTA. And, it called on the federal government to commit to at least 40 per cent funding to make the subway projects possible. Ontario is also moving ahead with its exploration of innovative partnerships to support transit-oriented development.
To improve the movement of goods and people across the province, the government is developing regional transportation plans that look at all modes of travel as one system. This fall, the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Plan will be released.
In the construction sector, new apprenticeship registrations are up by about 12 per cent since the government introduced measures to modernize the provincial apprenticeship system last fall.
The government is reaching out to industry and stakeholders for recommendations on additional ways to improve the skilled trades and apprenticeship system to fill critical needs quickly, and is gauging interest in a proposed Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot to attract skilled immigrants to rural and smaller communities in need.
Early in the new year, the government will launch a marketing campaign to encourage students and underrepresented groups to pursue a career in the trades.
Engaging with Indigenous Communities
Ontario will maximize available resources to improve services and infrastructure to enable Indigenous peoples to take part in and benefit from economic development in their communities. In addition, the government will work to increase access to capital, employment and skills training, and address legal obligations such as the duty to consult, negotiate and settle land claims.
The province is focused on working with Indigenous partners to develop all-season roads in the Ring of Fire. Ontario expects the federal government to cost-share on these efforts.
Improving Infrastructure Procurement
A review is also underway of how Ontario manages and procures the construction of capital assets. It is needed, the economic outlook stated, to break down silos among government ministries and agencies and make smarter infrastructure decisions that ensure better use of taxpayer dollars.
Ontario will also undertake its first-ever, provincial-level climate change impact assessment to explore what a warming climate means for the economy, infrastructure and ecosystems.
The government is proposing the formation of a Premier’s Council on Competitiveness to consult with the private sector on ways to improve Ontario’s ability to compete in the new tech-focused, digital economy. It is also interested in finding ways to encourage economic investments in rural and undercapitalized areas of the province.
Ontario is creating a Cyber Security Centre of Excellence for the broader public sector and service delivery partners to improve the government’s “digital resilience.” Underpinning its digital plan will be secure, trustworthy infrastructure.
Click here to read Ontario’s 2019 fall economic outlook and fiscal review.