Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont announces a "New Deal” for Infrastructure

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

August 25, 2019

WINNIPEG  - Leader Dougald Lamont announced today that a Manitoba Liberal Government will launch a “New Deal for Infrastructure” to establish an economic foundation for the next century of green growth and renewal in Manitoba.


Manitoba’s infrastructure deficit is the amount the province is falling behind on maintenance and necessary investments. The highway deficit alone is estimated to be at $6-billion and the total infrastructure deficit is estimated at $15-billion after decades of underinvestment by the PCs and the NDP alike.


The PCs cut $150-million in funding for highways in the 2018 budget, which is a double blow for the construction industry as well as for businesses that face higher costs because of Manitoba’s crumbling infrastructure. Some of Manitoba’s roads and bridges are in such bad shape that trucks have to travel half-full — doubling fuel and transport costs.


The PCs also held up applications under a $1.1-billion infrastructure agreement for more than a year. Signed in May 2018, the province did not open applications for projects until June 2019 — just before the election blackout.


“The bad news is that the NDP and PCs have neglected our infrastructure for so long that it needs to be replaced, but the good news is that we have an opportunity to invest in infrastructure that can take our economy to a new level,” said Lamont. “We want to let Manitobans, industry and municipalities alike know that a Manitoba Liberal government will provide predictable and stable funding. We will be an active partner in growth for years to come.” 


Working with municipalities, First Nations, and stakeholders, Manitoba Liberals will create a 10-year strategic infrastructure plan to prioritizes urgent and high-return-on-investment infrastructure projects. A Manitoba Liberal Government will invest on average $1.6-billion per year for ten years. This $16 billion investment would see a return of almost $21 billion to Manitoba during that time frame.


- Strategic economic infrastructure to lower costs for Manitoba families and especially businesses: roads, bridges, trade connections — including northern winter roads, ice roads, and support for Centre Port. Examples - Highway 75, the Border at Emerson and upgraded Highway from the Pas to Saskatchewan.


- We will make accessible infrastructure a priority. The PCs have gutted the accessibility act. We will strengthen it and establish clear guidelines to ensure that accessibility is “baked in” to new builds. We will also pay for accessibility upgrades including schools, public buildings, and businesses. We will encourage the retrofitting of existing schools and buildings by having the province pay for 100% of renovations in K-12 schools. 


- We will create a “Gateways” infrastructure fund so that entrance points to Manitoba and Winnipeg — provincial highways, airports and border crossings are upgraded to make them more effective, efficient and attractive to give visitors the best first impression.


- Greener & Healthier Community Design for cities and towns. We have an opportunity to start transforming our cities and infrastructure to make them more socially, economically and environmentally efficient. That means designing and building infrastructure that makes it fun and easy to get where you need to without a car. We will invest in active transportation infrastructure, transit, as well as renewing and building accessible local recreation centres across Manitoba.

- Finally, we will fund a study to determine the feasibility and costs of rail relocation / rationalization for the City of Winnipeg, linking it with CentrePort, as well as the possibility of creating a commuter / light rail system on the vacated tracks. Manitoba’s railways are a critical part of our economy and transportation infrastructure. However, the costs of building around the rails make up hundreds of millions of dollars of the infrastructure deficit, and hundreds of cars carrying hazardous materials run through Winnipeg’s residential neighbourhoods on a daily basis. The study should cost an estimated $3-million.


Manitoba Liberals will also apply previously announced “buy local” and local procurement policies to the projects and ensure there is a level playing field so local companies can apply.

“The PCs are obsessed with treating education, health care and infrastructure as costs to be cut, when they are essential investment that make a modern economy and our way of life possible,” said Lamont. “If we don’t invest in the present, we will leave nothing to the future.”


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BACKGROUNDER 


Good health care, good education and good infrastructure are not costs to be cut — they are the foundation of a modern economy. Manitoba can be a leader in green, accessible infrastructure by investing in our communities and having services located close to home.


Manitoba invested $544 million less in capital than initially planned in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Other provinces have signed deals and money is flowing. Jobs are being created, housing and infrastructure is being built.


Manitoba’s infrastructure deficit exceeds $15 billion, or a staggering $12,500 per Manitoban,  which doesn’t include new infrastructure needs. For example, the City of Winnipeg estimated that its existing infrastructure deficit is $3.8 billion with an additional $3.6 billion required for new strategic infrastructure. The roads and highways deficit is estimated to be $9-billion.


Manitoba’s crumbling infrastructure and the Pallister government’s deliberate decision to cut has real and significant costs. In the south, roads and bridges are so bad that farmers have to reduce their loads.


In the north, bad infrastructure adds enormously to the cost of living. The PC government’s refusal to create an ice road between St. Theresa Point and Garden Hill meant that trucks had to drive 10 hours out of the way — adding $3,000 to the cost of every shipment. With 200 trucks a year, the PCs added $600,000 to the cost of living of a community in order to save $30,000.


Better roads and bridges means trucks can travel fully loaded in a single run. It is better for the environment, for the business, and for the economy. These are the types of investments that need to be made a priority because they provide a high return on investment by delivering lower costs for business and communities. 


Strategic Infrastructure


The PCs and NDP alike have padded infrastructure budgets by claiming that some investments are strategic when they are not.


Public infrastructure is a key component of driving the economy – by providing quality, efficient, low-cost infrastructure for everyone (people and business alike).


These includes highways, trade routes, rail, local transportation, tourism, urban development, sewage treatment and water infrastructure.


Manitoba Liberals will ensure that a minimum of $500 million is put in annually to develop and maintain our highways, creating a long-range transportation planning framework to identify priorities for a resilient regional transportation system.


Community Infrastructure


Community infrastructure provides extraordinary value to communities and businesses that operate there. When communities are local and walkable, with accessible schools, community hospitals and recreation, it is more economically, socially and environmentally efficient and sustainable.


Good health care, good education and good infrastructure are not costs to be cut: they are the foundation of a modern economy. Manitoba can be a leader in green, accessible infrastructure by investing in our communities and having services located close to home.


Costing


In 2011, the GDP impact of $1.05 billion infrastructure investment showed a return to Manitoba of $1.36 billion — the largest effects via personal/disposable income, cascading impact on retail sales and the corresponding direct and indirect taxation revenues.


Employment rose by 9,755 person-years across the economy, with increases of over 4,000 in the construction industry and nearly 3,000 in the commercial services sector.


The core infrastructure spending also helped boost provincial exports by $699 million and household consumption by $539 million. The industrial sectors of construction, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing registered the largest output gains.


The Manitoba Liberal Plan would see a return on investment of almost $2 billion ever year, increasing the provincial GDP back to competitive level. This would raise employment by over 100 thousand person-years across the economy. 

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