TORONTO — The economic outlook for Ontario’s construction industry is positive and confidence is up across the province, according to findings from the 2017 Construction Confidence Indicator, an annual survey of construction contractors conducted by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS).
With a score of 60 out of 100, the Construction Confidence Indicator reveals a majority of Ontario's construction firms expect to conduct more business this year than last.
The Construction Confidence Indicator was released March 9 as part of the OCS's annual State of The Industry & Outlook Conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
"Increased construction activity is always a good sign for the overall economy and things are decidedly looking better for Ontario in 2017," said Sean Strickland, CEO of the OCS. "We're seeing a couple of possible explanations for the boost in optimism, like investments in major infrastructure projects across the province and an improved economy south of the border."
According to regional data, central Ontario is the most positive region with a confidence score of 62, followed closely by the Greater Toronto Area with a score of 61. Northern Ontario reports the lowest confidence with a score of 57, however, optimism has nevertheless improved since 2016. Significant investment is being made in post-secondary education facilities in northern Ontario including major projects at Laurentian University, Canadore and Confederation College.
Dawn Desjardins, deputy chief economist of RBC, commented, "Ontario's economy beat the national average increase in real GDP growth in both 2015 and 2016 and we expect 2017 will mark the year Ontario was the fastest-growing province. Fiscal stimulus and consumer spending will be key supports in 2017 and will likely lead businesses to pick up the pace of investment activity as the year progresses."
The Construction Confidence Indicator analyzes expectations of growth across five construction sectors — industrial, commercial, engineering/civil, institutional and highrise residential. The results show that across the province in the non-residential sector, contractors expect to see the most growth in the engineering/civil category with 43 per cent of respondents anticipating "significant growth" in 2017. Expectations for "significant growth" in this sector are highest in eastern Ontario at 57 per cent.
Contractors expect the highrise residential sector to be a stronger performer in 2017. Overall across Ontario, 45 per cent of contractors anticipate "significant growth" in this sector. Kitchener-Waterloo leads the province in highrise residential optimism with 63 per cent of contractors anticipating "significant growth," most likely a direct spin-off from the construction of new light rail transit.