Ontario contractors temper expectations for 2024

The data came from 500 interviews with the province’s builders.

Key Takeaways:

  • While optimism remains high, contractors’ expectations for the coming year have dipped since 2023, mostly due to rising costs.
  • A majority of respondents cited labour supply as a top concern, but also noted an easing of supply chain challenges.
  • While contractors stated that new technology can have excellent ROI and should be a focus, they noted that initial startup costs and training requirements remain a barrier.

The Whole Story:

Ontario’s construction community has spoken. 

The Ontario Construction Secretariat’s (OCS) annual Contractor Survey results are out and it covered a wide range of topics including business predictions, technology, labour, rising costs and more. 

Each year the survey polls Ontario’s ICI contractors to gauge their expectations for the year and capture their views on salient issues in the industry. The survey includes ICI contractors from every region in the province,  including union and non-union labour models. The results came after 500 telephone interviews with Ontario ICI contractors, 35% general contractors 60% trade contractors 5% unspecified. 


Respondents expect a mixed picture for the coming year. Coming off the strong momentum in 2023, expectations for business in 2024 ran cooler than in the 2023 survey. However, the majority predicted more business, pointing to the abundance of current work and projects in the pipeline. Two-thirds (66%) of contractors are feeling positive, down from 81% in last year’s survey.

Many contractors commented on the large amount of work currently being done, as well as the number of upcoming projects. Some of the reasons cited for increased activity were the abundance of infrastructure projects, increasing population and housing demand, policies helping to push housing, and government support. Some also anticipated a drop in interest rates, which they believed would spur more activity.


The most common reason for a negative outlook, comprising over 20% of the negative open-ended responses, was increasing costs. The most frequent costs mentioned were higher interest rates (noted by almost a fifth), material costs, and high taxes. Other prominent items were labour shortages (16%) and a weak/declining/uncertain economy (12%). Some responses also mentioned government policy and regulation, as well as tight money or a lack of financing.

Consistent with last year’s survey, just over one-third of contractors reported having projects cancelled by the owner. In terms of postponed projects, 56% of contractors report having projects postponed to a later start date (up modestly from 53% in last year’s survey).

Material cost inflation, interest rates, and labour costs were cited as the most common reasons for project cancellations. While high costs were also noted as the primary reason for project cancellations in the 2023 contractors survey, this year’s results suggest that it has become an even greater concern. 


Hiring intentions remained roughly the same as in last year’s survey, with 34% of contractors expecting to increase their hiring. However, contractors also noted ongoing concerns related to labour availability, with 65% reporting that accessing skilled labour would become more difficult in 2024.

Almost three-quarters of contractors (73%) pointed to rising costs as a consequence of skilled labour shortage (up from 63% in last year’s survey), whereas project delays decreased to 52% from 58% last year. Fewer contractors also reported having to turn down work (46% compared to 50%).


This year, 81% of ICI contractors said that adopting new technologies is important to the future of their business, up from 71% in 2018. The number of naysayers has dropped dramatically to 17% (from 29% in 2018).

Overall, 15% of contractors reported having a budget for technology, which is slightly higher than 13% from our 2018 survey. Productivity enhancement jumped to the top spot of motivators for adopting new tech, comprising 28% of responses. Filling out the top three motivators were reducing costs (22%), and client needs (21%).

Thirty-two percent (32%) of contractors said that cost or budget restrictions was their most significant barrier. This was followed by lack of evidence that new technologies will bring a return-on-investment, and training requirements, both of which were identified as the most significant barrier by 22% of contractors. At 14%, lack of awareness of new technologies was the least commonly selected of the four.

The most commonly used technologies were BIM (44%) and jobsite data collection apps (43%). Other technologies utilized by approximately one-third of contractors include: smart sensors (38%), advanced building materials (35%), clean tech (29%), and prefabricated or modular building (29%).

Despite the buzz around artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, augmented/virtual reality, wearables, digital twins and drones, the survey suggested these technologies are still emerging in terms of widespread adoption by contractors. Of these niche technologies, the use of drones is increasingly being reported. One in five contractors reported they have experience with drones, double what was reported back in 2018.


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