British Columbia’s 2024 construction outlook ‘surprisingly robust’ : ICBA

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CaDCR staff writer

Construction contractors in British Columbia say 2024 could be busier than 2023, despite labour shortages, supply chain and red tape issues, according to results of the latest Wage and Benefits Survey from the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

“Construction is dynamic, fast-paced, and rewarding – people wake up every day and go to a job site to build everything around us, creating inspiring legacies that shape our communities and the way we will live for generations,” said ICBA President Chris Gardner. “It’s a message we have to convey to young people in a more convincing way than we have in the past.”

Despite record levels of immigration, B.C. builders flag labour shortages (79 per cent of contractors say there aren’t enough skilled workers), as a major challenge.

“Fewer than 2 per cent of permanent immigrants entering Canada pursue a construction trade, so as a country we are failing to identify the gaps in our economy and recruiting people to move to Canada with the skills to fill those gaps – we have to do better and quickly,” Gardner said.

ICBA employers reporting that the average construction hourly wage will grow 5% this year, and another 6 per cent in 2025. In 2025, the industry’s average hourly wage – before any bonuses, benefits, profit-sharing or overtime – will reach $37.51, or about $78,000 annually.

Other major issues include supply chain constraints (62% say they are experiencing supply delays), and government red tape (only 4% say government is on the right track in dealing with them) cited as major drags on their work – and this is driving up costs and impeding the efforts to tackle housing affordability.

“We have not moved the needle on housing supply for the past 50 years – we are building fewer homes today than we did in 1972. Reams of new regulations and convoluted approval processes have choked the supply we need to keep home prices affordable for first time homebuyers and young families,” Gardner said. “All three levels of government need to stop the finger-pointing and working at cross-purposes, and collaborate meaningfully to fast track housing, cut red tape, and put in place practical policies that will make a real difference for home buyers.”

The ICBA Wage and Benefits Survey also noted:

  • Interior: 42 per cent of contractors expect more work in 2024 than last year; 83 per cent say they are short of workers.
  • North: 47 per cent of contractors expect more work in 2024 than last year; 88% say they are short of workers.
  • Vancouver Island: 32 per cent of contractors expect more work in 2024 than last year; 77 per cent say they are short of workers.
  • Lower Mainland: 50 per cent of contractors expect more work in 2024 than last year; 66 per cent say they are short of workers.

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