February 2, 2021

Sean Strickland Executive Director, Canada’s Building Trades Unions

Sean Strickland Executive director, Canada’s Building Trades Unions

THE CONSTRUCTION industry, early on, was deemed essential in most areas in Canada and contractors and tradespeople have adapted extremely well to ensure the health and safety of all workers while continuing to build and maintain vital infrastructure. I want to first and foremost, thank all Building Trades members who continue to go to work, every day, to build the critical infrastructure needed to keep Canadians safe.

However, with the uncertainty of the effects and duration of the pandemic, the economy has taken a hit, lowering confidence, causing private sector investments to decrease, shrinking work opportunities for contractors and tradespeople alike. Project backlogs are diminishing as project tendering dries up or is delayed. While our industry has kept working, it is troubling to note that current construction employment remains 8.1 per cent lower than its level pre-COVID-19.

According to Statistics Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a considerable slowdown in economic activity in Canada and altered the capital investment intentions of Canadian companies. Capital expenditures on non-residential  construction and machinery and equipment are expected to decrease 9.5 per cent from 2019 to $242.6 billion in 2020.

A brief on the Canadian construction industry prepared by the Ontario Construction Secretariat found that for the first time in over a decade, private sector spending was outweighed by public sector spending as investors look to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic and delay or cancel spending. Private sector construction capital expenditures is at its lowest share since 2006 and currently stands at 51 per cent.

The private sector has retracted their 2020 non-residential capital expenditures by 17 per cent ($30.7 billion) from $177.6 to $146.8 billion. This is the largest shock to construction private sector investment since the great recession of 2009.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, building strong community infrastructure is more important than ever. We need you to tell your locally elected Member of Parliament that we need infrastructure spending now.

I look forward to continuing to work closely with the BC Building Trades and affiliates to improve the lives of our members.

By Sean Strickland
Executive director, Canada’s Building Trades Unions