VICTORIA – The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) has released its 2022-2023 Annual Report, detailing both its own activity over the past year and the temperature of the wider construction climate.
BCCA board chair Anthony Minniti said the organization’s Spring 2023 Stat Pack illustrated “some unsettling but interesting provincial statistics.”
According to the Stat Pack, investment in British Columbia’s industrial, commercial, institutional and residential (multi-unit) industries are down 11 per cent since February 2020, with labour costs up 11 per cent since that time and the number of trade workers down nine per cent over the last five years.
“Nationally we’ve experienced odd economic signals such as high inflation and high interest, accompanied by robust employment numbers,” Minniti said.
BCCA president Chris Atchison also pointed to labour force shortages as a cause for concern.
“About a decade ago BuildForce Canada estimated that B.C.’s skilled labour shortage in 2023 would be 35,000 workers. We’ve reduced the gap to a comparatively small 6,000 today, but I’m struck at how consistently our industry struggles with the same issue from year to year,” Atchison said. “The question of how to attract and retain talent is always what keeps most employers up at night.”
Atchison cited initiatives such as an ad campaign called “Builder’s Life” highlighting the outdoor lifestyle of B.C. as a selling point for skilled trades workers to move to the province.
“By focusing on the lifestyle message — get the skills you need to live the life you dream of — BCCA was able to attract more than 5,000 British Columbians to apply for skilled trades jobs that will lead to apprenticeship,” he said.
Among the programs run by BCCA, the report highlighted the Builders Code initiative, which is a baseline code of conduct standard for B.C.’s construction industry. To date 962 companies have pledged to follow the code, with 974 pledge downloads and 1,980 policy downloads.
The BCCA Apprenticeship Services program, launched in October 2022, is a partnership with the federal government to support small and medium construction employers to hire and register first-year apprentices. Employers can receive cash payments for hiring and registering first-year apprentices in up to 39 Red Seal trades.
The report said $3.47 million in total financial incentives had been paid as of March 31, 2023, with 781 agreements signed, 466 total first-year apprentices hired and 229 total first year apprentices hired who declared they belonged to equity deserving groups.
Both Atchison and Minniti pointed to ongoing advocacy regarding prompt payment, mentorship and providing standard practices resources as ongoing goals for the organization.
“BCCA continues to fight for prompt payment legislation, educate public owners about procurement and contract best practices, and find project opportunities across the province for contractors of every size and type,” Atchison said in his introduction to the report.
“It feels reassuring that the BCCA is leading through action, evidence, facts and collaboration with our partners nationally and regionally,” Minniti said.
The BCCA annual report is available here.