Canada’s construction industry: the sprint to recovery

Gerard McCabe

Gerard McCabe

Managing Director, Canada

While the first quarter started with the hope of signing the new North American Free Trade Agreement, it ended with quite unusual circumstances. COVID-19 forced Canada and the rest of the world to pause many economic activities in the interest of the health and safety of Canadians. The unprecedented lockdown and volatility in oil prices changed many equations for Canada’s construction sector.

This first quarterly edition of our Canada market intelligence report provides an up-to-date analysis of Canada's construction economy, along with a national economic overview and commodities outlook. The report evaluates Canada’s construction economy in three provinces – British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

British Columbia

The cost of construction in British Columbia is expected to increase as a result of schedule delays and a slight hit to productivity. These delays in projects and extensions are also likely to impact both indirect and softs costs associated with new general requirements resulting from the pandemic. The economic lockdown has also forced several developers to delay the pre-sale launches of condos until the market conditions become more favourable.


The first half of the year was particularly difficult for the province. The risk of COVID-19 followed by the sharp decline in the oil price distressed Alberta’s economy. The uncertain regulatory environment that predates the pandemic and the scarcity of investment led to a dramatic drop in the number of building permits and housings starts. However, thanks to the economic stimulus and commitment from the government, the construction sector is expected to see increased activities.


Ottawa remained insulated to a certain extent because of federal projects being deemed ‘essential’. While some construction activities in Ontario were impacted due to the initial suspension orders by the province, the housing starts and building permits numbers since those orders were lifted suggest that Ontario’s fundamentals are solid. That being said, the additional cost for implementing physical distancing, health and safety measures and scheduling delays may impact the construction costs.

Canada's construction industry – perspectives on the sprint to recovery:

Canada's economy changed significantly since we released our annual edition of the market intelligence report in February. Through this intensive report, Darren Cash analysed what exactly changed in the last quarter and what is the way forward for Canada's real estate sector.

For all the analysis and insights on the Canadian construction market, download the full report by completing this short form.

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Further resources

Please visit our COVID-19 response page for all of our resources relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the construction sector.

For further information contact:

Gerard McCabe

Gerard McCabe
Managing Director, Canada

t: +1 (416) 925 1424