MONTREAL, March 22, 2023 /CNW/ – Bitume Québec, representing the asphalt and road maintenance industry, has taken note of the broad outlines of Finance Minister Éric Girard’s budget with mixed feelings, praising the wisdom of the Minister and the government in increasing already significant investments in the infrastructure sector, thereby guaranteeing a more than acceptable sustainability coefficient for our national road heritage.
Hoping to see substantial increases in imminent road investments, along with the $150 billion Quebec Investment Plan (PQI) for 2023-2033, the association believes that Quebec will at least be able to maintain the relative health of the Quebec road network, although the concept of recurring investments in preventive road maintenance is not yet part of the administrative practices, contrary to the practices in Ontario, New Brunswick and several northeastern American states. Investment and spending in the transportation sector will total $47.7 billion by 2032. “We’ll have to see how the road sector is funded before we can claim victory,” said Tytus Zurawski, president of Bitume Québec.
“We hope that the Legault government realizes that our national road network is the backbone of Quebec’s economy and regional growth,” Zurawski added, saying he believes the MTMDQ’s 32,000 kilometers of roads will begin to reflect the effects of this new investment strategy in the short and medium term. The President of Bitume Québec reminded the audience that it was essential to significantly make up for a large part of the asset maintenance deficit that was quite dramatic just a few years ago and that, according to the independent expert committee of the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility (MTMDQ), is an element of the whole that remains very vulnerable due to cost increases related to inflation, critical climatic conditions that are significant risk factors, with the exception of staff recruitment and retention, which also remain major issues.
Mr. Zurawski added that he wonders about the pernicious effects that the $312.4M reduction in the MTMDQ budget could have: a -1.3% variation in expenditures that would be explained mainly by the one-time funding granted in 2022-2023 to support the public transit system.
The same is true for the improvement of the local road network, which is cut by $120M, under the initiatives announced in the fall of 2021 as part of the Update on the Economic and Financial Situation of Quebec.
The President of Bitume Québec concluded by saying that he hopes the Quebec government will not lose sight of the ultimate objective of maintaining an efficient national road network.
SOURCE Bitume Québec