(Quebec) Quebec is a house whose owner keeps investing in maintenance, only to see the condition of the gutters, the roof and the foundation deteriorate.
The image is strong, but this is what emerges from the latest Quebec infrastructure plan (PQI) unveiled on Tuesday. Quebec is injecting record sums into the maintenance of its infrastructures, but their condition is deteriorating.
The state estimates that 44% of roads, schools and hospitals are in poor condition. This percentage was at 40% just a year ago. In 2018, the government calculated that 31% of its infrastructure was in poor condition. The trend is clear.
“We have a stake. But we are investing significant sums to respond to it. It will take some time,” warns Infrastructure Minister Jonatan Julien.
Unsurprisingly, the amount that Quebec will have to spend in the coming years just to maintain its assets is increasing again. The asset maintenance deficit (DMA) was 30.6 billion at the PQI last year, it climbed to 34.9 billion this year.
The deterioration of the housing stock and roads in Quebec comes at a time when the State is injecting record sums into infrastructure. The 2023-2033 PQI provides for 150 billion in investments (of this amount, 81 billion will go to maintaining assets, the rest to new projects). This is a meteoric increase of nearly 50 billion compared to the 2018-2028 PQI.
The government tries to explain the deterioration of its assets in particular “due to a new, more comprehensive assessment of needs” in the health sector, where the proportion of infrastructure in good condition fell from 87% to 76%.
Inflation is also to blame. Buildings are considered to be in poor condition when work estimated at more than 15% of their value is required. But the cost of work has skyrocketed with overheating in the construction industry, which has pushed some assets into the “poor condition” category.
As always, roads weigh heavily in the asset maintenance deficit. The road sector accounts for 58% of the total AMD, even as the government plans major new projects.
The famous highway tunnel between Quebec and Lévis is still marked “in planning” in the PQI. No amount has been included in the Plan for this project, which the CAQ government had already estimated at nearly 10 billion in a preliminary version.
According to Minister Julien, sums are indeed planned for the tunnel in the PQI. They are simply not disclosed in anticipation of future tenders.
“As good fathers of families, what we decided to do is to provision even before the business file which implies the automatic triggering of a sum to the PQI, he said. Provisions are made each year for the Quebec-Lévis tunnel or the tramway, to avoid a shock when filing the business case. »
“Naturally we do not mention the sums to ensure that competition takes place during calls for tenders. »
As for the Quebec tramway project, the PQI indicates that sums of 237.4 million were disbursed by the State last year.
The PQI also provides 2.3 billion for “the expansion and redevelopment of hospitals as well as the reconstruction of dilapidated CHSLDs into seniors’ homes”, as well as 2.4 billion intended for the realization of projects to add classes and of school repairs.
The amounts planned for the education sector have also more than doubled in the PQI since 2018, going from 9 to 22.2 billion. It must be said that schools are particularly affected by the deterioration of infrastructure.
The Ministry of Education aimed in its 2019-2023 strategic plan to reach the threshold of 50% of its building stock in “good condition”. However, 61% of its stock – consisting in particular of schools – is considered today to be in poor or very poor condition.
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