Canada sits at a crossroad and it is apparent our country needs a solution. We have an estimated infrastructure deficit of $123 billion, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The Trudeau government has taken steps to reduce this deficit with recent spending announcements and the creation of institutions like the Canadian Infrastructure Bank.

However, a new question emerges: aside from filling this deficit, how do we ensure our nation’s infrastructure works for a new generation and a changing workforce? We sat with our industry and business manager to discuss why young Canadians should get involved in infrastructure advocacy in Canada.

MP: Why should the younger generation care about infrastructure?

DS: Infrastructure is the invisible hand that guides daily life. Whether it’s transportation, telecom, health care, or education, infrastructure plays a primary role in facilitating a high quality of life, equal opportunity, and economic growth.

The next generation is, in part, defined by a strong commitment to social responsibility. Infrastructure plays a key role in enhancing the quality of life for urbanites, and those living in remote and Indigenous Communities. It is important to stay versed in the development of infrastructure and where it is being allocated. By doing so, we can improve the quality of lives for the majority of Canadians to ensure a more prosperous and equitable future for all.

MP: Millennials live differently than their parents and their grandparents. How can infrastructure be developed to work for changing lifestyles?

DS: Millennials are more likely to live in urban areas, use transit, and participate in ride-share programs — making them less likely to own vehicles.

To ensure future infrastructure developments work for our generation, it’s important to actively advocate for it — either through discussion or the ballot box. Only then will we see the development of improved public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure — such as schools, housing, and medical facilities — that meets the needs of our lifestyles, while embodying our social values.

MP: Why public-private partnerships?

DS: The public-private partnership model helps by allowing the government to focus on determining the outputs of infrastructure. It also frees up funds, which can be redirected into other key areas due to the increased investment efficiency associated with P3s.

By allowing the private sector to play a role in developing infrastructure, our nation can mitigate project risk, while developing innovative projects that leverage new technologies. P3s shift a portion of risk to the private sector, and as such they are incentivized to use innovation to enhance the project’s bottom line. This approach is especially important in areas like green infrastructure, for instance, where industry leads the way in developing novel solutions that embody the values of a clean economy.

MP: Where do you hope to see infrastructure and P3s going forward?

DS: It is my hope that we’ll see infrastructure in Canada move in a greener direction, to help bolster our clean economy.

The expansion of charging infrastructure, for technologies like electric cars, is key if we are to end our reliance on gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Waste management, water treatment, and energy are also areas of significance, and upgrading them will help build resilient, future-proofed cities. It is imperative to develop these projects to safeguard our natural resources.

In the end, though, it is not about what one person hopes to see. What’s important is that the projects developed work for the communities that host them. Staying versed in these affairs is important, and I’d encourage Canadians to get involved in their communities and advocate for the projects that will enhance their livelihood and meet their local needs.