Ontario ICI contractors adapt to “the new normal”

ICI contractors

A second wave of COVID-19 remains the top concern on industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) jobsites in the province

Construction is up and running in Ontario. However, the province’s ICI contractors are facing challenges with supply chains, increased costs, lower revenues and concerns about a second wave of COVID-19, according to a new survey. 

The Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) recently released its third Coronavirus Contractors Survey. Between June 16 and June 19, the OCS led a Contractor’s Survey of 200 ICI (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional) contractors from across Ontario. 

The ICI survey was created to provide insight on how the construction industry is adapting to new safety guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Top concern

The Coronavirus Contractor Survey found that the top concern of ICI contractors is a possible second wave of COVID-19, followed by the continued unease in ensuring the health and safety of their workers. 

Between Survey 2 (May 11 to 15) and Survey 3, there has been a significant increase in concern with the ability to obtain skilled labour and supply chain disruptions. 

As well, little improvement has been found in supply chain issues caused by the coronavirus since the first survey in the series (April 22 to 29), with close to two-thirds of contractors still reporting a medium to high impact. 

ICI contractors report that on average, 28 per cent of their activity was halted and 5 per cent of contractors reported all their construction activities were still fully stopped. 

Work delays

The survey also found that delays are ongoing, with 41 per cent of work scheduled to start this year is still delayed. 

As well, one third of contractors are experiencing significant delays in the processing of building permits. 

In regard to procurement trends, contractors are starting to bid on more work, with 53 per cent now doing the same amount or more bidding than usual, compared to 38 per cent at the time of the previous survey. 

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It has been observed by 88 per cent of contractors that owners are now including new health and safety requirements on projects. 

With relevance to worksite trends, 93 per cent of ICI contractors believe they are meeting enhanced sanitation standards on their sites and 42 per cent of contractors consider the morale of their workers to have improved for that reason. 

Enhanced sanitation 

Furthermore, 68 per cent of contractors want enhanced sanitation practices to continue permanently on their jobsites, while more than half (52 per cent) of contractors have observed an increase in government enforcement of health and safety standards. 

The construction industry took a significant blow financially as a result of the pandemic. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of firms expect less revenue in 2020, this is unchanged compared to the previous surveys. The depth of their expected revenue decline has seen little improvement, with contractors now forecasting a 23 per cent drop on average, compared to a 26 per cent fall forecasted in the previous survey. 

ICI contractors expect that project costs will increase by 13 per cent due to the new PPE and physical distancing requirements.