Labour Shortages, Higher Wages, and Discontent with Red Tape: BC Construction in 2023

BC construction companies expect a year of labour shortages and historically high wage increases – all while growing in their discontent with government, according to the results of a new survey of Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) member companies.

SURREY – BC construction companies expect a year of labour shortages and historically high wage increases – all while growing in their discontent with government, according to the results of a new survey of Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) member companies.

Four out of every five BC construction companies (80%) say they don’t have enough workers – up from last year. And 77 per cent of employers say this is their company’s single biggest challenge in 2023.

“The shortage of people is intensifying as Canada continues to go over a demographic cliff,” said ICBA President Chris Gardner, who released ICBA’s annual Wage and Benefits Survey of its member companies across B.C. today. “BC construction companies are increasing pay and benefits, adopting new technology faster than ever, and recruiting everywhere they can – but they’re still falling short of filling positions.”

Construction in B.C. now employs nearly 250,000 people and accounts for almost 10 per cent of the provincial GDP. The acute shortage of people is driving record increases in wages – ICBA members report the average trade wage (excluding benefits, bonuses and overtime) is expected to increase by 6% this year.

“For construction professionals, there has never been more opportunities or higher compensation,” said Gardner. “More than 90% of our members expect 2023 to be as busy – or busier – than 2022. There has been no better time to pursue a career in construction than today.”

The labour shortage, supply chain issues, and growing burden of red tape has resulted in record discontent with government. Only 2% of ICBA members said, “when dealing with a business like mine, government is on the right track.” More than half (55%) said government is on the wrong track.

“Rules, regulations, red tape – and the seeming inability to get projects approved and permitted quickly – are impacting affordability and driving a record-level of frustration with government,” said Gardner. “The World Bank reports that Canada ranks 64th in the world in how long it takes to get a construction project approved and permitted – a reality that frustrates the construction industry every day and is a real threat to investment in BC and Canada.”

The ICBA Wage and Benefits Survey also noted:

  • Interior: 33% of contractors expect more work in 2023 than last year; 85% say they are short of workers, up from 72% in 2022.
  • North: 75% of contractors expect more work in 2023 than last year; 92% say they are short of workers, up from 71% in 2022.
  • Vancouver Island: 48% of contractors expect more work in 2023 than last year; 83% say they are short of workers, steady from 84% in 2022.
  • Lower Mainland: 50% of contractors expect more work in 2023 than last year; 80% say they are short of workers, up from 76% in 2022.

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