By Mark Buckshon
Publisher, Ottawa Construction News
We’re in a New Year, where at least at the start, one word – pandemic – describes the environment, as it has through 2021 and much of 2020. Supply disruptions, health and safety challenges, labour shortages and inflation have combined to create a truly wild and volatile mix for anyone daring to conduct business in the architectural, engineering and construction community.
That said, conditions in Ottawa overall are quite good, even excellent. At present, because of a combination of large scale public infrastructure projects and plenty of work in the private sector, contractors, subtrades and suppliers are experiencing the problems of affluence (namely labour shortages and inflation). Clearly, we need to be on top of our pricing and scheduling. However, a couple of years of pandemic-restricted operations have given us the strength to handle these challenges.
I may be suffering from wishful thinking, but as I write this, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and exceptionally high COVID-19 positivity rates for those able to find a test in Ottawa, is not matched by a corresponding increase in hospitalizations and deaths. The vaccines are working.
So when Spring arrives, we may truly finally be through the worst of the pandemic, ready for the tri-annual open labour negotiations season. My story based on an incredibly frank eletter posting by IBEW Local 586 business manager John Bourke suggests negotiations may be challenging, but not necessarily disruptive.
In the meantime, we’re preparing to invest additional resources to provide Ottawa Construction News and Ontario Construction News readers enhanced editorial coverage and a much more comprehensive daily bidding opportunities file. These enhancements will be combined (for the daily newspaper) with an Internet-era publishing innovation, the Leaky Paywall. Essentially, everyone can view a few stories a month (and receive the daily electronic eletter) without charge, but if you want to access to the full range of construction data and read stories beyond your free limit, you’ll be invited to subscribe – at a truly reasonable monthly or annual rate. (Advertisers, of course, will receive free subscriptions).
I expect I’ll have more news about these developments in February. In the meantime, it is time to get down to work.
Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group, which publishes Ottawa Construction News and Ontario Construction News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.