ORBA tells federal environment minister to ‘stop playing politics and get shovels in the ground’

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) is calling on federal Minister of Environment Steven Guilbeault to “stop playing politics and join us and provincial governments across Canada to get shovels in the ground on much needed projects in Ontario and across the country.”

ORBA was responding to comments made by Minister Steven Guibeault at a downtown Montreal conference on Monday. CEO Walid Abou-Hamde is asking Guilbeault to clarify his statement and “clearly state” the federal government’s position on critical road and highway projects in Ontario and across the country.

Abou-Hamde also referred to the minister’s previous actions – including an attempt to encroach on provincial jurisdiction over infrastructure development recently deemed unconstitutional –biased against development, ORBA officials say it is “shocking to see the minister make these comments on behalf of the government, suggesting a naïve understanding of Canada’s infrastructure needs at a time of record immigration and a push towards removing barriers to trade and economic growth.

“Further, these comments can only be characterized as elitist and out of touch with the reality of everyday life in suburban and rural communities. middle-class Canadians in Waterloo, Scarborough and Orleans depend on road and highway infrastructure to get to work, drive their children to hockey practice and ensure their loved ones receive adequate emergency and primary care. Moreover, the road building industry employs more than 56,000 workers in Ontario alone, that is thousands of good paying jobs supporting tens of thousands of families across Canada,” Walid Abou-Hamde, ORBA chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“Just last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks at ORBA’s 97th Annual Convention emphasized the importance of road and highway infrastructure for Canadian prosperity, and thanked our members for the work they do in Ontario and across the country.

“We ask the Prime Minister ensure this same message is echoed and championed around the Cabinet table.”

ORBA supports development across the entire transportation infrastructure asset class, including rail and public transit.

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