Why Canada's rural infrastructure will continue to fall behind


One of North America’s largest advantages has been the infrastructure in place to move agricultural commodities from inland to the coast for export. Farmers and ranchers complain about some of the bottlenecks and issues, but, comparatively speaking to Russia and Brazil, North American highways and byways have historically been in much better shape.

That might be changing, however.

I was first alerted to this when I heard Kelvin’s interview with Marlene Borsch, on the growing infrastructure capabilities of Russia which will give the country significant advantages over Canada and the U.S.

Similarly, the Trump administration is attempting to pass significant infrastructure legislation that will attempt to provide federal- and state-level funding to transportation infrastructure. Regrettably, the first proposal bill has received mixed reviews from agriculture for different reasons.

At Canada’s Agriculture Day, I spoke with Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture about the lack of infrastructure focus for rural Canada. (Article continues below video) 

Infrastructure is not all about interchanges, mass transit, or freeways but it’s also about broadband internet, railways, and bridges in rural Canada.

This week, the Globe and Mail reported that Federal infrastructure funds are benefitting Liberal ridings the most which is not a shocker and is typical of the governing party, as the story points out. The concerning component of infrastructure spending is, no matter the governing party, are enough dollars funding rural infrastructure projects in comparison to the urban ones? Who makes the decision on infrastructure projects is a critical component for any funding.

As we have seen with pipeline expansion, infrastructure projects are not without controversy in Canada due to environmental and indigenous concerns, just to name a few.

When funding is made available one of the disadvantages for projects like rural broadband is that there isn’t a visible result. Better internet is invisible while a bridge dedicated to a politician lasts a lifetime.

Over the next several months we will be covering on this issue of rural infrastructure as it pertains to grain, livestock, and rural life in general. If you have any thoughts or comments please send us feedback to [email protected].

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