Ambitious plans to build infrastructure in Ontario have been laid out in both the government’s 2022 budget and more recent Fall Economic Statement. The Government of Ontario is moving forward with a series of pioneering capital plans across the province with four major areas of focus: highways, hospitals, broadband, and public transit.
To connect communities, Ontario has committed to investing $25.1 billion in the next 10 years ($3 billion in 2022-23) in highways and bridges alone according to the 2022 Fall Economic Statement. These projects are intended to help move goods and people across the province as well as alleviate gridlock in major urban areas. The government estimates that this gridlock is costing the economy more than $11 billion a year in productivity. Most notably, the government has touted the construction of the new Highway 413 in the GTA, the expansion of Highway 417 in Ottawa, and the rebuilding of Highway 101 in Northeastern Ontario.
The government is also focusing on several public transit projects. These include building subways in the GTA, expanding GO transit, the and Northlander passenger rail. These projects will bring with them thousands of jobs in construction and delivery. In addition, an expanded transit system will help the province move one step closer to building a more connected transportation network. They will support communities in Ontario to develop new economic opportunities, expand local tourism industries and improve access to health care, and education as well as other critical services.
Additional areas of focus in the upcoming year include multiple investments in rural communities such as broadband and housing. The province is also making major investments into improving community infrastructure with a particular focus on healthcare and long-term care facilities, with $40 billion over the next 10 years toward healthcare-related projects.
With the government making major, ambitious investments in multiple different sectors, the government expects these projects to bring jobs to the province and contribute to building Ontario’s economy.
During the 2022 provincial election, the main message carried out by the Ford Government was a plan to rebuild Ontario after the COVID-19 pandemic. With this plan in mind, the government has focused projects on promoting local economies and creating more jobs within the province.
During the election campaign, the PCs ran on a slogan promising to “Get it Done” and they ran an ad campaign branding their opponents as the party of “NO” who do nothing but criticize and have no real plans to get the economy back on track.
In particular, the PCs used proposed highway construction plans like Highway 413 as a political wedge to drive contrast and box in their Liberal, NDP, and Green opponents who were opposed to highway construction. The proposed Highway 413 was politically popular with suburban GTA voters who drive and commute while the other political parties boxed in by aspects of their base were unable to support it.
While the PCs have been bold in their plans to build new infrastructure across the GTA, an important electoral battleground, they have also been quick to promote their investments across rural Ontario – which are largely PC held ridings.
What is the Government saying?
“Ontario cannot afford to hold its economy back. Now is the time to build.” – The Speech from the Throne
“Ontarians are sick of all the talk and endless studies that delay action and delay building. [The Liberals] and the [the NDP] can’t help but say no and want you to choose between highways and subways. The only choice is between our party, which will build roads, highways and transit, and the Liberals and NDP who will say no to transportation infrastructure.”
Looking ahead into 2023, the government is expected to continue its focus on expanding community infrastructure projects – particularly in the healthcare, transportation, and housing sectors.
If inflationary pressures continue, particularly within the construction sector, this may drive up some of the costs associated with these ambitious infrastructure goals and impact the province’s proposed budgets.
In order to build on the Ford “Get it Done” brand, we can expect the province to continue to move as expediently as possible and parties interested in getting involved in these projects should regularly monitor developments, such as public consultations and open Requests for Proposals.
JB+A Senior Management Team: