April 2018 – Article – 2018 Contractor Survey: Business Confidence Remains Strong


The business outlook for Ontario contractors in 2018 continues to be optimistic according to results of the annual Contractor Survey conducted by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) with nearly a third of contractors expecting to be busier this year than they were in 2017. The survey also shows that just over half of contractors expect to do the same amount of work as they did last year.

In presenting the results of the survey at the 2018 State of the Industry and Outlook Conference, OCS Director of Research Katherine Jacobs also noted that although contractors remain positive about their opportunities in 2018, they are heading into the year with slightly less confidence than in 2017. This modest dip in optimism is most likely in response to the high volume of work that took place in 2017.

At the regional level, contractors in the Southwest and Eastern parts of the province are most optimistic for 2018, with 34% in both regions expecting more work, followed by 33% of contractors in each Central Ontario and 32% in the GTA.  Only in the North was business confidence down overall, with 25% expecting less work, and only 22% of contractors expecting an increase in business this year.

A breakdown of sectors shows business confidence was highest in the engineering sector with 47 per cent of contractors predicting increased activity.  This was followed by 39% of contractors in each of the institutional and residential high-rise sectors feeling optimistic.  The commercial and industrial sectors were less optimistic with 35% and 27% expecting more activity this year, respectively.

“Contractors are also keeping their eyes on a number of industry challenges”, says Jacobs. “Top of mind for contractors are labour market issues such as the recruitment of skilled workers and the aging workforce. Approximately a third of contractors were also concerned about the transfer of risk from owners and their ability to keep up with new technologies”.

In keeping with the conference theme of Technology and Innovation, contractors were also asked about their thoughts on technology and the importance it plays in the construction industry.

71% of contractors responded by saying they felt it was important to the future of their business, with 27% saying that adopting new technologies is very important.  One survey respondent commented that “technology can help us improve every aspect of our company,” while another said, “if we don’t adopt new technologies, customers won’t be interested in hiring us.” According to Jacobs, “We hear a lot about 3D printing and drones in the media, but it seems the new tools providing high value to contractors are those with more immediate application such as Business Information Modelling”.

However, Jacobs says what should not be lost in the survey findings is the fact that 29% of contractors felt technology was not important at all. As an industry, we need to work together to share best practices and work towards enhancing productivity and safety through the adoption of new technologies.

The OCS Contractor Survey provides industry stakeholders with a gauge of contractors’ expectations for the coming year as well as an ‘on-the-ground’ perspective of what contractors are feeling and experiencing. The survey is conducted via telephone with 500 ICI contractors from across Ontario and has been an integral component of the OCS State of the Industry and Outlook Conference for over a decade.





Fred Lehmann
Communications Coordinator,

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222
F 416.620.5310