Mr. J. W. Bud Bird (Fredericton-York-Sunbury):
Madam Speaker, it has been revealed that almost 40 per cent of Canada's national highway system is currently below minimum standards and almost 25 per cent of the bridges on that system are in major need of repair.
The total estimated cost to put all of Canada's national highway system in good shape is more than $14 billion. To its credit the government has made a small start through the strategic capital investment initiative, through which about $500 million will be spent over the next five years. However our highway system desperately needs more than that. It is rapidly becoming a national emergency.
I urge the federal-provincial ministers of finance and transportation to target the highway system as the first priority in their new approach to collaborative planning and budgeting. Major infrastructure investments must not be deferred indefinitely. Perhaps highway construction offers the best potential of all to stimulate economic growth and employment and to reduce government costs for unemployment and welfare.
Subtopic: CANADIAN HIGHWAYS