A shortage of skilled workers, tradespeople moving elsewhere to escape the high cost of living, and the need to be paid more quickly are all creating challenges for BC’s contractors.
The BC Construction Association says waiting months for payment is a significant financial risk and increased debt costs put contractors in danger of bankruptcy.
The association says prompt payment legislation would provide immediate relief for construction sector, but the provincial government has not delivered “this simple solution.”
BCCA President Chris Atchison says contrary to what the government seems to believe, “90 per cent of BC contractors are small companies, and they are often paid three or six months after the last nail has been pounded, or the last coat of paint has dried.”
Atchison says no other industry has to endure that, and they continue waiting for the Attorney General to follow through on a promise to set up a large table working group to look into the issue.
He calls the situation ‘dire,’ and says unlocking cash flow is an economic necessity and in the best interests of every community in the province.
Atchison warns that action on the issue is needed quickly.
The association says from the first quarter of 2023 to the second quarter, BC’s construction employment base diminished by 14,500 workers.
Atchison warns they have seen indications construction workers, both skilled and unskilled, are leaving the province because of the high cost of living and a shortage of housing.
He says there is the perception there are better opportunities elsewhere, and we cannot afford to lose a single skilled trades person.
Atchison says the province needs an effective affordable multi-unit housing strategy aimed at keeping workers within the province, and being more diverse in hiring and training would help replace the tens of thousands of tradespeople retiring in the next few years.
Atchison says “everyone, including members of traditionally underrepresented groups, should feel welcome within the construction industry,” because there is no lack of employment opportunities for anyone interested.
The association says demand for construction remains high in BC, but the estimated value of proposed major projects has dipped to $174 Billion from $220 Billion last year.
With lower demand for commercial projects, higher material and labour costs, late payments for projects, and a declining workforce, the prospects look dim for contractors in the next few years.