Industry characteristics

The Quebec construction industry has specific characteristics that have no parallel in any other sector.

For instance, the industry is characterized by the limited duration of projects, the many workers and employers with different specialties that succeed each other on a single site, and the large number of small companies that form the industry (85% of companies have fewer than five employees).

Along with these specific characteristics, two others probably have the biggest impact on the industry: mobility of workers and companies, and cyclical and seasonal instability.

Mobility of workers and companies

The industry is remarkable for the great mobility of its companies and workers: from one site to another, one region to another, and, for workers, one company to another.

Unlike the manufacturing sector, where the product is made in a plant, the companies and workers in the construction industry make the client’s product (house, school, hospital, road, etc.) on the site where the client will take possession of it.

Cyclical and seasonal instability

The construction industry is also characterized by its cyclical and seasonal instability. In fact, construction activity may vary considerably due to investments (cyclical instability) or climatic conditions (seasonal instability). That is why the industry is very flexible and adaptable. These qualities are also put to advantage to deliver the range of projects required, which are as varied as the number of clients to satisfy.

Variation in investments, both public and private, lead to periods of strong activity during which large-scale projects are started, which may be followed by calmer times. In recent years, thanks to constantly growing overall investments in Québec, these variations (great activity, followed by a period of much slower activity) will be felt mainly in certain regions of Québec following completion of a major project (e.g., Alcan in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean).

Because construction activities take place outdoors, they are generally concentrated during the summer, the period from April to October being when activity is strongest, while December and January are the weakest months.

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