Ontario contractors mixed on prospects for 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

According to the annual Construction Confidence Indicator, a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid and the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS), 31 per cent of Ontario’s contractors are expected to grow their business in 2016, while 52 per cent expect to maintain their current workloads. The survey had a score of 57, revealing contractors’ perceptions of the business environment over the next year.

“The construction industry is still expecting to grow, but remains cautious,” said Sean Strickland, CEO of the OCS, in a press release. “While the Construction Confidence Indicator still shows an overall expectation for growth, it has been on a downward trend since rebounding from the 2009 recession, which clearly speaks to the current state of the economy.”

Detailed geographic data collected by the OCS indicate some regional economies and cities will outperform others. Firms in London, Ontario seemed most confident for business in 2016, while over half of the firms in Northern Ontario expect to see business decrease this year and felt the least optimistic about Ontario’s economic outlook.

Meanwhile, only six per cent of construction firms in the province expect to “benefit greatly” from the federal government’s $125 billion infrastructure spending plan.

“Ontario’s construction economy is a regional patchwork of diverse and changing business opportunities,” said Strickland. “It’s critical that firms have timely information that helps them grow their business and anticipate skilled labour needs. This includes a more clear and substantive conversation with federal and provincial governments about how firms can make the most of infrastructure dollars in the future.”

Contractors believed that different sectors would experience growth in each region. The residential sector is expected to lead growth in the GTA and Niagara Region, but in Ottawa and Niagara, the institutional and engineering sectors are expected to experience the most business. Increasing confidence in manufacturing leads to the expectation that the industrial sectors in Windsor and Sarnia will thrive.

The OCS, a partnership of 25 building trade unions and signatory contractors in the industrial, commercial and research sector, released the findings in time for the OCS’s 16th Annual State of the Industry & Outlook Conference, where industry and government leaders unite to discuss the future of the province’s construction industry.

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