Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify before you today.
ACEC recommends that the government develop and commit to a long-term investment strategy.
ACEC is cognizant of the spending and tax constraints currently facing the federal government. With last year's $50 billion deficit and with further deficit details forecast until 2015, the federal government will be limited in terms of its spending ability. It is for this reason that ACEC believes that a long-term investment strategy is essential.
ACEC recommends the following key features be included in a long-term investment strategy: first is a commitment to close and stabilize the infrastructure deficit over the long term; second is an ongoing assessment of infrastructure investment needs, including the state of current infrastructure, changing needs of society, and population growth; third is the prioritization and sequencing plan for projects and programs; fourth is realistic timelines that balance the long-term urgency of infrastructure investment with current fiscal pressures; fifth is clearly defined roles and expectations for all three levels of government involved; and sixth is the institution of an annual evaluation of progress.
A strategy that sets a clear path toward bridging the infrastructure deficit gap will provide clarity and certainty to both public and private sector organizations that participate in the planning, implementation, operation, and maintenance of public infrastructure.
Our second recommendation to the Government of Canada is to maintain the existing pre-stimulus infrastructure programs until a long-term strategy is in place.
Based on remarks earlier this week by Minister Stockwell Day to the Canadian Public Procurement Council, we understand this is the intent of the government. This is supported and applauded by ACEC.
Until such time that a long-term strategy is in place, it is important that Canada does not lose ground on infrastructure deficit. Continuation of pre-stimulus programs will allow both the government and the private sector to remain well-resourced as they implement infrastructure projects. With the exception of the gas tax fund, the majority of infrastructure investment programs from the federal government, such as the stimulus fund and the ongoing Building Canada plan, are scheduled to end in 2011 and 2014 respectively. We're happy to hear the government plans to maintain these programs, while realizing they will shortly be coming to a close.
Our third recommendation to the Government of Canada is to provide flexibility on the stimulus funding deadline on projects for which funding has already been approved but for which legitimate delays were experienced during implementation.
For these reasons, we support the pragmatic approach suggested by Minister Flaherty.