PEI’s construction industry is facing a crisis due to the economic impact of COVID-19, an expert warned.
No new building permits have been issued in the province since March 27, and the local construction industry has been operating at about 60% capacity, CBC News reported. In addition, Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey found that for the month of March 2020, job numbers in PEI’s construction sector went down from 7,300 to 6,900.
“A week before this started, we were still leading the nation in population growth, economic growth and construction growth,” Construction Association of PEI general manager Sam Sanderson.
“The job losses that were reported at the end of March definitely were attributed to the COVID-19 situation.”
Sanderson told CBC News that while some of the job losses were due to the industry winding down as projects get completed, the other factor is that there are now fewer workers on-site – to allow for physical distancing in light of the pandemic risk.
Reducing worker count is not the only safety measure construction companies are taking. Things such as health screening for workers, designating on-site stairwells, and even handwashing have all become mandatory, and all these additional measures are costly for contractors, Sanderson said, especially when they have bid on these projects long before these additional measures were requirements.
Sanderson added that new facilities and safety measures add costs to projects, and fewer workers on-site means jobs will run on for even longer.
“It’s a huge cost to everybody involved,” he said. “We want to keep working, but we want to keep working safely.”