March 24, 2009 06:01 ET

While Ontario Contractors' Outlook is Cautious for 2009, Most (75%)

Nearly One Half (45%) of Firms Reported Growth in 2008, But Just Two in Ten (20%) Predict Growth in 2009, According to a Survey Conducted for the Ontario Construction Secretariat

Attention: News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ON--(Marketwire - March 24, 2009) - Toronto ON - According to a ground breaking survey of more than 1000 non-residential contractors in Ontario conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Ontario Construction Secretariat, Ontario's contractors benefited from another strong year in construction in 2008 with nearly one half (45%) reporting they conducted more business in 2008, compared to 2007. The record-breaking year for many firms across the province has the majority of firms in a good financial position to weather the current economic situation, as two-thirds (75%) of firms rate their overall financial health as 'very strong' (29%) or 'strong' (46%) in early 2009.

That said, the data reveals that contractors do expect the current downturn to have an impact on the amount of work they will conduct in the coming year as the vast majority (70%) of contractors expect that the current economic situation will have a 'negative' impact on their business, while about one-in-five (19%) feel the downturn will have no impact at all on the amount of business they conduct in 2009.

As a result, 38% of firms expect to conduct less work in 2009, compared to 2008. About the same proportion (40%) expect to conduct the same amount of work and only 20% expect to conduct more work this year compared to last year, a net score of -18 points. Currently less than half (43%) rated the amount of new business opportunities available to them as 'good', however almost the same proportion (49%) of firms expect this to decrease throughout 2009.

Not all of Ontario's regions, sectors and trades are feeling the effects of the current economic slowdown to the same degree. Looking forward in 2009, firms are most optimistic that they will conduct more work in the institutional sector (+12, net: more - less work), namely in the education and healthcare segments, while firms are the least optimistic that they will conduct more work in the industrial segment (-10 net), primarily in the construction of new manufacturing and processing plants (-12 net).

Contractor's outlooks also varied by region of the province. Firms located in Ottawa, Kingston-Pembroke, and Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie are the most likely to feel they will conduct more business in 2009, while those located in Hamilton-Niagara and Sarnia-Windsor are the most likely to feel they will conduct less business.

With the anticipated decrease in business opportunities, 30% of contractors expect to employ fewer people in 2009, compared to 16% who expect to employ more people. However, even as construction may shed jobs many contractors still report shortages of a number of skilled trades. The survey found Roofers and Shinglers, Refrigeration and Air conditioning Mechanics, Bricklayers are among some of the trades reported in short supply by contractors across the province.

Other findings from the survey include:

One-in-five (19%) firms expect the current economic situation to have 'no impact' on their business, while 10% feel it will have a 'positive impact'.

Half of contractors rate the availability of financing and credit as 'good' (52%), one-third (32%) expects this to decrease throughout 2009.

The majority (58%) of firms expect the price they charge to remain the same in 2009, with an equal proportion expecting their price to increase or decrease (21%). Firms located in Eastern and Northern Ontario are the most likely to increase their price, while firms located in the GTA are the most likely to decrease the price they charge.

About the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS):

The Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) was established in 1993 under provincial legislation to represent the collective interests of the organized building trades unions and their signatory contractors in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) construction industry. The OCS works, with our labour - management - government partners, to enhance Ontario's unionized ICI construction industry by developing relationships, facilitating dialogue, providing value-added research, disseminating information and promoting the value of unionized ICI construction.

These are the findings of an Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) survey conducted by Ipsos Reid between January 29th and February 10th, 2009. In total, 1043 interviews were conducted among non-residential firms working in the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional sectors. Interviews were conducted across the province with detailed quotas administered according to economic regions throughout the province. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire business population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. The data was statistically weighted according to the latest Statistics Canada data according to the number of non-residential construction firms within in each region of the province to ensure the sample's regional composition reflects that of the actual number of firms located throughout Ontario.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Martin Hrobsky
Senior Research Manager
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
(416) 324- 2017


Adam Cywinski
Market Research Analyst
Ontario Construction Secretariat
(416) 620-5210

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, health and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

To learn more, visit www.ipsos.ca.

About Ipsos
Ipsos is a leading global survey-based market research company, owned and managed by research professionals. Ipsos helps interpret, simulate, and anticipate the needs and responses of consumers, customers, and citizens around the world.

Member companies assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media. They measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos member companies offer expertise in advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, and public affairs research, as well as forecasting, modeling, and consulting. Ipsos has a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services, guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies. The company was founded in 1975 and has been publicly traded since 1999.

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Contact Information

  • Martin Hrobsky, Senior Research Manager, Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
    Primary Phone: 416-324-2017
    E-mail: martin.hrobsky@ipsos.com