FILE – Contract employees build soil conveyor for Site C dam in northeast B.C., spring 2019. (B.C. Hydro)

B.C. government policies ‘threaten’ construction industry, contractor survey suggests

ICBA survey found 53 per cent of contractors think government is on wrong track

Less than half of B.C.’s construction contractors are expecting more work in 2020, according to a survey released by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association Wednesday.

The survey found that 40 per cent of the companies in the survey are expecting more work this year, compared to 51 per cent last year. This year represents a five-year low, according to the ICBA, which surveyed 1,000 construction companies.

When broken down by region, the ICBA survey found that 42 per cent of contractors in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Whistler expected an increase in work, 40 per cent in the province’s Interior, 38 per cent in northern B.C. and 24 per cent on Vancouver Island.

In the report, ICBA president Chris Gardner said the dip represented a “notable drop in confidence.”

Gardner said the reasoning behind that could be because 53 per cent of contractors think government “is on the wrong track when dealing with their businesses.” Just eight per cent said government was on the right track while 39 per cent said they didn’t know.

“This reflects government policy that has been hostile to job creators on many fronts ranging from its stances on major project development, to freezing out 85 per cent of construction workers from the tendering of public construction projects, to adding more red tape and regulation,” Gardner said. The 85 per cent figure is the ICBA’s shot at the NDP’s building trades union-only hiring model for taxpayer-funded construction projects.That 2018 agreement allowed only only 19 unions to bid on provincial megaprojects.

However, the survey did report some good news. The shortage of skilled trade workers in the industry dropped compared to the previous year. In 2020, 35 per cent of companies said they are looking to hire more people this year, compared to 45 per cent the year prior. The most sought-after skilled trades workers were masons, with all companies surveyed saying they needed more.

Black Press Media has requested comment from the province.

READ MORE: B.C. building groups ask court to axe public construction deal

READ MORE: B.C. union construction dispute directed to Labour Relations Board

READ MORE: Skilled worker shortage hangs over B.C. industrial growth


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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