Ontario’s provincial government is highlighting the importance of the trucking industry in a new budget that promises key infrastructure investments.
The $27.9 billion for highway work over the next decade is $2.8 billion more than was projected in last year’s budget — and includes $3.2 billion for 2023/24, which is $300 million over the amount invested in 2022, the Ontario Road Builders Association says.
Highway projects cited in the 2023 budget included a bridge crossing over the future Bradford Bypass, the next phase of construction for the new Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph, continuing to widen Highway 401 from Pickering through Eastern Ontario, and plans to build Highway 413 that would connect Vaughan and Milton.
“Ontario’s trucking industry accounts for about 1% of Ontario’s GDP and approximately 36% of the jobs in the transportation sector,” the budget document notes. “The transportation system is the backbone of Ontario’s export-driven economy, with more than $3 billion worth of goods moving on Ontario’s highways per day.”
“The Highway 401 corridor in Eastern Ontario is an important economic link between Ontario, Eastern Canada and the United States. It carriers about 10,000 trucks with commodities valued at up to $380 million per day,” the budget document added, referring to work to widen Highway 401 from Pickering through Eastern Ontario.
The government also repeated that the Bradford Bypass, a new four-lane highway connecting Highway 400 and 404, will save motorists and truck drivers up to 35 minutes in travel time compared to existing routes.
Trucking industry responds
Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program will also see $25 million over three years to attract skilled workers and in-demand professionals. Trucking secured access to that program in 2019.
“OTA applauds Transportation Minister Mulroney for her ongoing commitment to investing in critical road infrastructure, which will allow our members to efficiently move the Ontario economy, now and in the future, resulting in increased investment to our province for years to come,” Ontario Trucking Association president and CEO Stephen Laskowski said in a written statement.
“We applaud the Ontario Government’s 2023 budget, and appreciate their commitment to continuing to build Ontario with historic investments in road and highway infrastructure,” said Phil Fletcher, president of the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario. “Minister Mulroney has been a champion for the trucking industry and this budget will help continue to tackle gridlock and strengthen supply chains, helping to make our jobs easier every day.”