Canada’s construction sector faced unprecedented challenges when the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the global economy, but the speed of the industry’s recovery showed just how resilient it was all along. Although challenges still remain, this year’s Canada Construction Forecast 2022 shows that even brighter days are ahead for the industry.
“There has never been a better time to embrace change and digitally connect your field and office teams. Ongoing innovation will enable the industry to keep pace with increasing complexity and build smarter,” said Jas Saraw, Procore Technologies VP, Canada.
The forecast takes a comprehensive look at the year ahead with highlights that include:
Speed of Recovery Surpassing Expectations
Forecasting by Global-Data had predicted Canada’s construction sector would grow 2.5 per cent in 2021, but the actual figure is expected to be as high as 6.5 per cent. This is in large part due to an influx of investment into the residential construction sector, progress with vaccinations, and increased public spending in infrastructure and clean energy projects.
However, this unexpectedly speedy recovery is at odds with the pandemic-constrained building materials supply chain, resulting in shortages and unpredictable costs in materials like lumber and steel. Global property consultancy company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) concluded in its Q4 2021 Canadian Construction Outlook report that the sector will see more price and inventory stability as supply chain managers take steps to reduce bottlenecks over 2022.
An Impending Boom in Infrastructure Spending
The booming population in markets like Quebec, Ontario, and B.C. is creating an opportunity on the civil side of the construction sector, as cities are requiring more services as they increase in size, particularly new hospitals.
With that growth it means a need for civil infrastructure, and I think there’s more money being funded in those areas than in the past few years – Chris Cower, PCL Construction
“With that growth it means a need for civil infrastructure, and I think there’s more money being funded in those areas than in the past few years,” says Chris Gower, PCL Construction’s COO, Buildings. “There’s certainly a need for more hospitals, and we’re seeing some very large private-public partnerships being contemplated in various provinces.”
Gower also points to more $1 billion-plus mega projects coming up to bid than ever before, and the private sector restarting projects that were put on hold during the pandemic as factors contributing to a busy marketplace in 2022.
Labour Shortage Challenges
A constricted labour supply is a familiar challenge to construction firms worldwide, but its effects are expected to be acutely felt in 2022 as the Canadian construction sector faces the anticipated spike in demand.
John Gamble, President and CEO of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies is bullish on 2022 for the sector, saying “business opportunities are going to be fairly robust.” He warns, however, that “getting qualified people on the design side and on the construction side [is] certainly going to be a challenge.”
Some governments are even getting behind efforts to attract young talent to the trades, with the Province of Nova Scotia recently eliminating the personal portion of personal income tax for the first $50,000 of income for any construction trade worker under the age of 30.
Efforts like this, combined with initiatives the industry itself undertakes, can be a big draw for workers looking for a steady paycheck, and a path to paying off student loans.