Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) has released a list of key transportation-related initiatives for the province, ahead of the June 2 election.
The Keep Ontario Moving: ORBA’s 2022 Provincial Election Priorities report includes five priorities:
- transportation infrastructure funding
- reducing risk and creating value for Ontarians
- addressing the shortage in the heavy civil construction workforce
- sustainable transportation infrastructure projects
- enhancing safety for all road users.
ORBA’s first priority calls for sustained or increased highways and transit capital funding and supports plans to build Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.
“Infrastructure, such as Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, needs to be built as part of a multi-modal strategy to keep Ontario moving,” said Bryan Hocking, CEO of ORBA. “Congestion costs us all. Time spent in traffic keeps us away from spending time with family and friends and costs Ontario’s economy $11B in lost productivity in the GTA alone.”
ORBA is also calling for the creation of a price index for key construction materials on all public contracts, and for the government to work with industry to bring further clarity to essential project material specifications.
“Currently, Ontario does not have a mechanism to deal with the hyperinflation of construction materials such as steel, lumber and ready-mixed concrete,” Hocking said. “Price uncertainty for these important construction materials and specifications such as asphalt increases risk for both contractors and public owners and create unnecessary volatility in the procurement process.”
There should also be a mechanism on all provincial contracts that provides coverage and compensation for pandemic-related impacts, he said.
The new provincial government should also work with federal partners to create a more robust immigration strategy that would attract heavy civil construction workers to Ontario.
“We know that Ontario faces a growing shortage of construction workers,” Hocking said. “Recent projections indicate that we will require tens of thousands of new workers in the industry, including general labour and apprenticeship and non-apprenticeship trades over the next decade.”
Current provincial and federal programs, such as the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and the federal Express Entry programs, are not enough to tackle the current labour shortage challenge, and immigration strategy should recognize the unique workforce requirements of the transportation infrastructure industry, the report states.
ORBA also wants the provincial government to promote and recognize non-apprenticeship skilled trades, such as those that are needed to build essential transportation infrastructure
Also, the province should better promote the responsible reuse of non-renewable construction materials on more transportation infrastructure projects.
“Our industry has demonstrated a clear commitment to a circular economy through the use of recycled construction materials such as recycled asphalt pavement and aggregate. Together with governments, we can do more,” Hocking said. “As proud Ontarians and responsible industry leaders, we want to continue to deliver the highest quality projects in the most sustainable way.”