Industry and trade association Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is urging the federal government to level the playing field for Canadian manufacturers and maximize employment opportunities for Canadians in procurement decisions related to the more than $53 billion in infrastructure investments planned over the next 10 years.
In testimony given on March 6 before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, federal Minister of Transportation, Lisa Raitt could not confirm that Canadian economic benefits would be taken into account in a project estimated at over $5 billion to replace the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, according to the association.
“We hope that the Minister will reconsider the criteria that will guide procurement decisions for the Champlain Bridge and other federally funded infrastructure projects,” said CME president & CEO Jayson Myers. “Given the amount of taxpayer money going into these infrastructure projects, and the potential positive impact that such investments have on economic growth and employment, it only makes sense that the Government should try to maximize opportunities for Canadian suppliers.”
In a letter sent to Minister Raitt in October 2013, Myers called on the federal government “to consider how to maximize the opportunity for Canadian materials and services, in this case particularly in the structural steel, rebar, construction materials, and urban transportation sectors, in a manner that respects our international trade obligations.” In the same letter, CME said the federal departments of Transport and Infrastructure Canada are excluded from Canada’s commitments in all its current trade agreements, including NAFTA and the Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization.
It also claimed that many Canadian trading partners, notably the U.S. under their Buy American policy, are locking Canadian manufactured goods out of their domestic procurement markets.
According to a CME estimate, the construction of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal could contribute to the creation of over 10,000 jobs if the structures and components were manufactured in Canada. The organization urged the federal government to maximize the economic spin-offs associated with large projects financed by the departments of Transport and Infrastructure.