Editorial: Federal budget should help
The 2016 federal budget contains plenty of good news for rental operators, especially those in Ontario and Quebec. Infrastructure spending was a key election promise of the federal Liberals, and they have mostly delivered (though not in as high numbers as promised). Shovels will be hitting the ground across the country to the tune of $11.9 billion over the next five years in what is described as “phase one” of the long-term plan.
By Patrick Flannery
A key point is that the feds are offering to make the money available with only 50 per cent cost sharing from municipal or provincial partners, in contrast to the usual stipulation that the municipality and the province had to take a one-third share each. This should open the door for the money to flow even if one of the partners is in belt-tightening mode.
The help comes at a welcome time. A lot of suppliers and rental operators at the Rental Mart were saying things are slow right now in Ontario. Many others were saying things are slow by not being there. As irritating as it is to be dependent on the Ponzi scheme of government money for economic growth, that seems to be the only way anything gets going in this province any more. It doesn’t seem that long ago that everyone understood that using tax dollars to buy business activity was the same as paying off your car loan with a credit card. Well, the 2008 U.S. recession put an end to that sensible thinking, and it looks like Keynesian infrastructure projects are the new engine of growth.
“Infrastructure” has a pretty broad definition in this budget and, as usual, what the money is actually for is obscured by the government’s reflexive need to insert voter-pleasing buzzwords into everything. “Social infrastructure” for First Nations communities is one item. Rental operators can only hope that this means building community centres and not Snapchat accounts. Same with the amounts for “early learning and childcare.” This better mean more schools, not more teachers, at least as regards the benefit to our industry. And I’m not sure what kind of infrastructure you build for “climate change mitigation,” but hopefully it involves digging holes, pouring concrete and lifting people up to high places.
The biggest chunk of money will go to public transit, however, which is comfortingly easy to define and understand. All the usual construction-site support equipment should be useful here: temporary heat and power, portable toilets, lighting, compressors. Could be demand for large rollers, loaders and compaction equipment if the project involves new rail lines.
Upgrades to water supply and wastewater management infrastructure are also part of the plan. Trenchers and excavators will need to be on site, as well as some underground drilling rigs, cranes and the whole pantheon of concrete products.
To get you started planning your fleet to meet these demands, we humbly present the annual compaction showcase on page 28. Here’s hoping all this deficit spending by our governments will get business and profits moving so we can pay the bill in years to come.
Speaking of buying equipment, don’t miss the first-ever Canadian Rental Service webinar, brought to you by Point-of-Rental software. John Adcock of Leavitt Machinery in Coquitlam, B.C., has been buying and selling aerial equipment for a living for over 10 years, and he’s going to share what he’s learned in an interactive online interview with yours truly. Joining the May 10 webinar is free, and you can submit your questions and comments over a chat link. Should be a great educational opportunity for everyone in our industry.