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ICBA Survey: Pay Up, Confidence Down, More Workers Needed

VANCOUVER – Even as the British Columbia construction industry plans to raise pay for its workers by 10% over the next two years, companies need more workers and there are concerns about where the NDP Government is taking B.C., according to the results of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association’s (ICBA) 2020 Wage and Benefits Survey.

ICBA President Chris Gardner released the results of its annual survey of approximately 1,000 construction companies Wednesday morning at ICBA’s 23rd annual CEO Breakfast, kicking off the BUILDEX construction tradeshow at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

“It’s another strong year for the construction industry, with workers looking at substantial pay increases this year and next,” said Gardner. “Yet there are notes of caution being sounded by our members: the percentage of companies who expect more work this year than last is now at 40% – the lowest in several years.”

Construction in B.C. now employs nearly 250,000 people and contributes almost 9 per cent of the provincial GDP. This year, survey respondents said they expect to give their workers a 4.8% raise; in 2021, they expect another 5.2% increase. That’s more than double the rate of inflation, which is hovering at 2%.

The major concern of construction contractors remains finding enough workers to do the work, with 64% of companies reporting that the shortage of workers is their biggest challenge. “For young people making career choices, it’s never been a better time to consider learning a trade and planning a career in construction,” said Gardner.

The ICBA Wage and Benefits Survey also noted:

  • Interior: 40% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 60% say they are short of workers, especially labourers, carpenters and framers.
  • North: 38% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 46% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and welders.
  • Vancouver Island: 24% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 64% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and plumbers.
  • Lower Mainland: 42% of contractors expect more work in 2020 than last year; 68% say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and plumbers.

“While still relatively healthy, all of those regional numbers are down substantially from last year, meaning construction businesses aren’t as bullish on the economy as they were 12 months ago,” said Gardner. “This is a troubling result.”

But construction company owners are worried about the direction the B.C. Government is taking the economy. Of those surveyed, only 8% said John Horgan’s NDP government was on the right track in dealing with businesses like theirs. More than half – 53% – said Horgan was on the wrong track, while another 39% were undecided.

“The Horgan NDP Government keeps hiking taxes on employers, making it more expensive to employ people. Add in their building trades union-only monopoly on major transportation projects – which excludes 85 per cent of workers and 82 per cent of apprentices from government funded infrastructure projects, and it’s no wonder the industry is unhappy with them,” said Gardner. “The vast majority of industry wants government to be fair, open and transparent when it comes to bidding projects.”

For results of the 2020 ICBA Wage and Benefits Survey, including several infographics that can be used by media, click HERE.

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