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CCA says Budget 2024 should focus on “shovel-worthy” projects rather than just shovel-ready

April 23, 2024 | By Anthony Capkun

April 23, 2024 – The federal government’s housing strategy is a long-awaited step forward to build more homes, says the Canadian Construction Association, “but significantly more investment is needed to address critical infrastructure needs and the housing crisis”.

Citing estimates by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which show that each new housing unit requires $107,000 in public infrastructure investment, CCA says an additional $128 billion is needed to build, support, and connect these homes to essential housing-enabling infrastructure.

“Budget 2024 sets a bold objective to help Canadians buy homes, but misses the mark on delivering sufficient investment and a plan to ensure a steady flow of funds to address our nation’s infrastructure challenges,” said Mary Van Buren, president, CCA. “While we acknowledge some initiatives […], the conditions attached and lack of strategic vision are concerning.”

Moreover, says CCA, the focus on measures to ease lending for homebuying and rezoning “may only serve to exacerbate demand in the long-term with no real long-term vision on how to increase supply”.


“We need investments in infrastructure that are made based on the real needs of Canadians: projects that are shovel-worthy rather than just shovel-ready,” said Van Buren. “This visionary and consultative approach is what Canadians deserve.”

What are shovel-worthy projects?

Speaking on behalf of CCA, Jadranka Bacic explains “Shovel-worthy projects prioritize infrastructure that offers substantial long-term social and economic benefits, and addresses critical needs over immediate construction”.

“For example, we need action on trade infrastructure. Canada has fallen from 10th to 26th in terms of its global trade infrastructure ranking. Our trade corridor—highways, ports, railroads and airports—are critical to enhance and secure vital supply chains, transportation networks and market access.”

And while CCA does not dispute the need to build more homes, Bacic asks “what is the strategy behind making those homes and neighbourhoods livable?”.

“We need to think long-term. There is a network of housing-enabling infrastructure that needs to be put in place to keep those communities socially and economically viable.”

That infrastructure includes everything from water and wastewater systems to roads, electricity, schools, and hospitals.

“Other shovel-worthy projects would include those that strengthen the resilience of our infrastructure,” Bacic continues. “Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, and climate-related risks to infrastructure can be catastrophic. Innovations in green infrastructure can help mitigate the impact of climate change on infrastructure.”

Tackle the boom and bust

CCA says our construction industry wants Ottawa to implement policies and incentives that support not only housing construction and related essential infrastructure, “but also investment and help bypass construction’s boom and bust cycle”.

This includes programs to build the workforce needed, and construction projects that share risk “so that innovation and investment is encouraged, not hampered”.

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