The Generals - Spring/Summer 2011 - (Page 21)

feature Life AFTER Stimulus By Michael Atkinson, President, Canadian Construction Association OVER THE PAST two years, governments around the world have been locked in a pitched battle against the forces of recession. Tax cuts, record-low interest rates, quantitative easing and increased government spending have all played a significant part in the battle, each with varying degrees of success. The fact that the global economy is now growing, albeit anaemically, is testament to the success of these measures. As the impact of the global financial crisis became apparent in the fall of 2008, G-20 leaders held a summit in Washington, D.C. to plot a path out of the economic morass that was gripping the globe. Traditional monetary policy measures were proving insufficient to turn the tide of pessimism faced by most global financial markets, leaving industrialized nations with little choice but to turn to fiscal policy to head off a slide into economic depression. The International Monetary Fund recommended G-20 governments stimulate their respective economies by as much as two percent of GDP. Canada, like many of its international partners, was reluctant to commit to such measures, since after all, this was not a crisis of our doing, but one we inherited due to our proximity to the United States. However, by the start of 2009, it had become clear to policy makers across the country that Canada could not survive the downturn without adopting aggressive fiscal measures. For Canadians, stimulus came in two forms: tax cuts for the middle class and a dramatic investment on the part of governments in the renewal of public infrastructure. The tip of the spear for the federal government was the Economic Action Plan, which included a number of significant stimulus measures. To ensure the timely rollout of the Plan, several conditions were attached to federal funding: 1. Funding was conditional upon receiving matching funds from other levels of government; 2. Funding was directed at projects that could be built within a twoyear window, or so-called “shovel ready”; and 3. Approved projects were required to be completed by March 31, 2011. The expenditure on public infrastructure was directed at three priority areas: core public roads, highways and water infrastructure; postsecondary institutions; and existing federal assets. While the purpose of the spending was stimulus, these funds were long overdue to help address years of chronic underfunding of public infrastructure, which many experts felt had created an “infrastructure deficit” of approximately $120 billion. Only time will tell just how effective these funds have been in reducing Canada’s infrastructure deficit. One thing remains clear: Without a sustained and more concerted effort on the part of governments at all levels, the limited progress made over the past 24 months will be quickly lost. The infrastructure deficit, however, is not limited to core infrastructure alone. Across the economy, many of our public buildings, spring/summer 2011 the generals 21

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Generals - Spring/Summer 2011

The Generals - Spring/Summer 2011
Chairman’s Message
President’s Message
Member Milestones
Upcoming Events
The Women of OGCA
Infrastructure Ontario: The 10-Year Plan
Life AFTER Stimulus
Are Higher WSIB Rates Inevitable?
Let’s Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Buttcon Ltd.: Earning Loyalty Through Fairness
Century Group Inc.: Providing Great Service to Clients
Index to Advertisers

The Generals - Spring/Summer 2011