By Mark Buckshon
Publisher, Ottawa Construction News
I’ve always been an optimist at heart, and right now, that sense of hope and positive possibility is reaching a new level. Finally, COVID-19 is coming under control in Ontario and across Canada, with indicators that this nation will soon be the most successful major country in the world at vaccinations and infection control.
The progress is quite astounding. As Canada Day approached, the vaccination coverage in Canada exceeded the US, with first dose vaccination levels higher than any other western nation – and this doesn’t include many younger people who only recently gained access to vaccination opportunities and the millions who still are preparing for their second dose.
Already, of course, the construction industry is rebounding into boom levels. The biggest problems (and these are indeed severe) relate to materials and labour shortages, and serious price inflation. I expect some of the more extreme inflation pressures will ease once pandemic supply chain challenges are resolved.
(You may recall at the beginning of the pandemic, there was fear of extreme deflation – and for a while, oil future prices dropped below zero, meaning people were paying to take inventory off their hands, as world economies and supply chains slammed their brakes.)
Massive government support programs kept things from falling apart completely, and may have set the stage for dangerous inflation risks, but I’ll only count the inflation scare as real once we get things fully re-opened. Still, contractors and owners need to be nimble and careful about fixed price contracts.
Perhaps however the biggest challenge, and lasting benefit, of the pandemic is we’ve learned how to work more safely and effectively, with enhanced application of digital resources and a much more collaborative approach to solving challenges. I sense these benefits will live on for many years in the future.
In the meantime, I accept that because Canada is now ahead of the world with vaccinations, we’ll still have some time before we can roam the globe freely and travel at a whim. Our businesses, however, will likely prosper in the months ahead and we’ll enjoy good health. This is good news, indeed.
Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies, which publishes Ottawa Construction News and Ontario Construction News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.