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Federal infrastructure projects should maximize procurement opportunities for Canadian manufacturers: CME

Published by Frank Defalco on March 06, 2014

OTTAWA - Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Canada`s largest industry and trade association, 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 the next 10 years.
In testimony today 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 major project estimated at over $5 billion to replace the Champlain Bridge in Montreal.

"We hope that the Minister will reconsider the criteria that will guide procurement decisions for the Champlain Bridge and other federally funded infrastructure projects", says 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 last October, 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 pointed out that 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 noted that many of our trading partners, notably the US under their Buy American policy, are systematically locking Canadian manufactured goods out of their domestic procurement markets.

CME estimates that the construction of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal could contribute to the creation of over 10,000 jobs if the steel structures and components were manufactured in Canada. We urge the federal government to maximize the economic spin-offs associated with large projects financed by the departments of Transport and Infrastructure, in line with its Economic Action Plan`s priority to sustain jobs and economic growth.

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