The latest RICS Canadian Construction Market Survey indicates acceleration in activity during Q1. Momentum was positive across all of the survey’s sub-sectors, with the private commercial arena particularly standing out. Workloads are expected to increase approximately 5 per cent over the coming 12 months, with employment rates also on the rise.
In this quarter’s report, more than 40 per cent of respondents indicated that any limited building activity was due to labor shortages, while in Q4 findings, slowdowns in construction were widely reported as due to increasing fees on developers for submitting plan applications.
The breakdown of the Q1 data indicates that these labor shortages were more prevalent in the ‘white collar’ end of the market (quantity surveyors and other construction sector professionals) than in the ‘blue collar’ end (plumbers, plasterers and bricklayers).
Some respondents cited this year’s weather conditions as the main factor limiting activity (83 per cent), noted as well towards the end of Q4, and followed by financial constraints (69 per cent) and planning and regulatory issues (63 per cent), such as the aforementioned plan submission fees.
At the regional level, the infrastructure sector continues to expand with a special focus on the growth of Infrastructure Ontario’s project pipeline — 35 per cent more respondents expect the project pipeline to expand rather than shrink in the coming year.
The majority of respondents (62 per cent) expect the Prairies region to see the strongest growth in construction investment over the next few years, while the investment climate in the Atlantic Provinces is widely expected to be more restrained. Finally, reflecting the need for professionals in some areas, 68 per cent of respondents indicated they would consider relocating to another province for employment purposes.