Infrastructure is vital to New Brunswick’s economic, social and environmental quality of life
A long-term infrastructure plan is vital to New Brunswick’s economic, social and environmental quality of life. ACEC-NB emphasizes the important role governments play in delivering valuable infrastructure assets to the people and province of New Brunswick. ACEC-NB is aware of the financial constraints New Brunswick currently finds itself. It is also mindful that much work has to be done to bring the province back to a fiscally stable condition.
Over the last several years, however, ACEC-NB has witnessed a steady decline in the investment being made to current and existing infrastructure assets in New Brunswick. This includes proper investments in the maintenance and operations of existing infrastructure assets. Much of the decline is the result of austerity measures taken by all levels of government in part due to the effects of the 2008 economic recession.
That withstanding, infrastructure is an investment – not an expense. It is an investment in the economic, social and environmental prosperity of this province. Together with government and stakeholders, we share the willingness to make New Brunswick an attractive place for our youth, families and our businesses. However, in order to ensure these objectives are accomplished, we believe infrastructure development needs to be moved higher on the government’s priority list.
“The Canadian Infrastructure Report Card”, released in 2012 by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Public Works Association, Canadian Construction Association and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, says a significant amount of municipal infrastructure ranks between “fair” and “very poor”. Replacement costs for these assets in Canada totals to $171.8 billion nationally. According to the Residential Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, public infrastructure underinvestment will cost the Canadian economy 1.1% of real GDP growth annually over the next fifty years and reduce long-term profitability of Canadian businesses by an average of 20% if the infrastructure gap is not dealt with. While these numbers are national in scale, we can only imagine what that means if New Brunswick continues to underinvest in its most valuable assets – schools, roads, wastewater treatment, energy, to name a few.
Not only is infrastructure an investment, it attracts investment. For the province to be at all competitive and attract world class companies, we need to have the infrastructure for those businesses to thrive.
In order to deal with the growing infrastructure gap that exists in New Brunswick, we support the New Brunswick Auditor General’s recommendation that an extensive asset management system through long-term planning be developed to deal with the maintenance and upkeep of current infrastructure assets. This may also require making unpopular decisions on some assets. The longer we neglect existing infrastructure, the more it will cost taxpayers to replace these assets. This message is consistent with our advocacy efforts to the Federal Government, who announced in 2011 the first steps towards a long-term infrastructure plan. By doing so, Canadians will receive the best return on investment, meeting the future needs of infrastructure in Canada. We strongly urge elected candidates to make the same commitment, which will ultimately benefit taxpayers and continue to help New Brunswick grow as an attractive place to do business.
ACEC-NB asks elected candidates to make a commitment to close and stabilize the infrastructure deficit over the long-term with realistic timetables that balance the long-term urgency of infrastructure investment with current fiscal pressures, as well an adoption of sound asset management practices to quantify the condition and remaining service life of existing infrastructure. What is the rationale and benefits behind adopting a long-term infrastructure strategy?
- It promotes sustained economic recovery in New Brunswick by eliminating the economic costs of an on-going infrastructure gap;
- It creates quality sustainable jobs in multiple sectors, including design, technology and construction;
- It contributes to future balanced budgets by reducing the cost of infrastructure projects and maximizing the economic benefits of these investments.
ACEC-NB is committed to working with all parties and its stakeholders in delivering infrastructure that continues to ensure safety and high quality of life for all New Brunswickers, while providing the best value for investment to taxpayers.