Survey says: 98 per cent of Ontario contractors impacted by COVID-19

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

According to an Ontario Construction Secretariat survey, 98 per cent of contractors have been impacted by COVID-19, with more than half reporting that most or all their work has halted.

The Coronavirus Contractors Survey: Impacts and Actions survey targeted 200 industrial, commercial and institutional construction companies across Ontario.

Here are some of the findings:

  • When it comes to how much of their work has been impacted, contractors report on average that 64 per cent of their existing work has stopped, and 65 per cent of upcoming work has been delayed.
  • Supply chains have also been affected by the coronavirus, with 63 per cent of contractors reporting medium to high impact.

Contractors’ biggest concern right now is ensuring the health and safety of their workers and staff, followed by global recession and workforce productivity. Other frequently reported concerns include supply chain disruptions, keeping their firms in business, and their ability to meet contractual deadlines.

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Contractors report on average that Ontario’s April 3 shutdown order impacted 62 per cent of their construction activity and, while 63 per cent of contractors agreed with the province’s decision to shut down parts of the construction industry, 22 per cent disagreed

Financial impact:

Under current restrictions and with current government supports, 16 per cent of construction firms expect they would go out of business within three months, another 28 per cent would go out of business within three to six months.

So far this year, 83 per cent of contractors reported that their revenue is down compared to last year, with an average decline of 42 per cent.

A total of 56 per cent of construction businesses expect they will stay in business but will need government support.

The most common actions taken to lower risk of coronavirus spread on construction sites include:

  • encouraging more-frequent hand washing – 88 per cent
  • increasing availability of hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations – 85 per cent
  • establishing a procedure to allow workers to call attention to unsanitary conditions – 84 per cent
  • About three-quarters of contractors have laid off construction site workers and 42 per cent have laid off office staff
  • More than half of contractors have applied for government assistance, and 30 per cent say they have taken out loans as a result of the coronavirus economic disruption

“It’s going to change the construction industry dramatically. It’s going to be a new world after this is done,” a respondent wrote.

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