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FEAR OF BEING AFRAID OF ECONOMIC RISKS

FEAR OF BEING AFRAID OF ECONOMIC RISKS

(INFRASTRUCTURE CONSTRUCTION SITES RISE AGAINST THE PANDEMIC)

By Pieter ‘s Heeren

When Parliament returns, the Quebec government intends to propose a new bill that will aim to accelerate the completion of infrastructure work across the province.

This bill will replace Bill 61, which could not be adopted last June due to the refusal of opposition parties to join.

Moreover, this Bill 61 was not unanimous among the population despite the ‘urgent’ call from the government to revive the economy by using the leverage of carrying out contracts in the field of roads, bridges and public transit.

Yet there is reason to act!

The lack of manpower will be a factor, in the medium and long term. However, in the short term, strong intervention is warranted to ensure that jobs and the economy are maintained following the recent sharp slowdown, investor indecision, and a possible second wave.

THE REBUILDING OF CONSTRUCTION

This may seem counterintuitive, even before parliamentarians have reached agreement on a stimulus package, as the construction industry has now kicked off its own recovery.

I’m not at all surprised that this <boom> of the past few months has spread far beyond infrastructure projects.

From the moment the provincial government reopened the construction sites on May 11, there was a surge felt in all regions. In addition, all sectors have followed suit: residential, roads, commercial and industrial.

It was a sort of “resumption of delays” that subsequently sparked a revival in several other areas of the economy.

This is how construction-related supply chains, made up of numerous <SME’s>, were also able to break out of the grip of the effects of the pandemic.

However, they still have to deal with the effects of material shortages on a daily basis, and prices are affected.

RESUMPTION BUT FOR HOW LONG

Unemployment statistics since the start of the pandemic are revealing.

This “resumption of delays” in the construction sector was not unrelated to the fact that the unemployment rate had fallen significantly. All this translates into the creation of 2 million jobs in Canada in recent months. In fact, there is still 1 million missing to return to the pre-covid level.

But even with projects that are being delivered and the delays that are being resolved, we must look ahead and see the risks that await us. There is the risk of an anemic post-covid recovery after the <boom>.

Speeding up construction sites is the right solution to compensate for the possible shortage of work in the coming months. The rigor in the management of these sites will also be important because who says acceleration also says risk of errors that the “process” protects.

The missing element in the equation is the impossibility of knowing whether infrastructure projects will arrive on time to make up for the after boom…

STATE OF THE ART

The fear of some observers is that by speeding up the sites, supported by “special” powers, we will neglect certain safeguards that have been put in place over time to ensure sound management.

However, while agreeing with these protections, they do not take into account the current emergency. It takes time … time that we don’t have.

It would be desirable to stop playing politics and change the wording in the law so that the following are not an open bar:

  1. State of emergency
  2. Bypass environmental rules
  3. Bypass tendering procedures
  4. Immunity from prosecution

It is imperative that we address the real economic risk that could affect us all.

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