Canada’s governments are preparing to spend historic amounts on infrastructure. To avoid creating ‘white elephants’, they should follow six key principles that will help the projects improve the country’s productivity, competitiveness and social equity.

Summary and recommendations

The Government of Canada is leading a resurgence in infrastructure spending, with a 12-year budget of more than $180-billion and the creation of key institutions such as the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Provinces are doing their part, with long-term infrastructure plans and more spending, and municipalities are also increasing their infrastructure budgets.

But will this spending be remembered for being visionary, innovative and inclusive, for building the country’s productivity, competitiveness and social equity? Or will the successes be outweighed in the public mind in the years to come by the failures?
To ensure that infrastructure funding is spent to best effect, governments should set priorities and make decisions according to the following six principles:

  • SMART PLANNING that prioritizes key sectors critical to nationwide competitiveness and innovation, especially transportation and next-generation telecommunications
  • SMART PROCUREMENT that jump-starts the traditional procurement process
  • SMART CONSTRUCTION that focuses on execution and includes sharing best practices in new technologies to enhance productivity
  • SMART BENCHMARKING that establishes a national effort to standardize how infrastructure data is collected and used to enhance capacity
  • SMART EMPLOYMENT that focuses on the skilled trades and inclusion of under-represented groups, especially in priority communities
  • SMART COORDINATION that gives infrastructure a higher profile as a driver of Canadian prosperity

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