The construction industry

The construction industry

The construction industry is an important sector in Quebec. This is true from both the economic and the job-creation standpoints. In fact, annual investments were close to $53 billion in 2019. In addition, an average of 264,600 direct jobs are generated per month, or one job out of 20 in Québec, as well as thousands of jobs in other sectors.

This economic activity requires the contribution of many individuals and companies, including architects, engineers, suppliers of materials, workers, and contractors. Together, they form the teams that build bridges, houses, schools, factories, and businesses.

A number of specific characteristics set the construction industry apart from other sectors: economic fluctuations, high labour mobility, and the lack of a permanent employment relationship between companies and workers. These are some of the reasons that a statute exclusive to the industry, the Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training, and Manpower Management in the Construction Industry (Act R-20), was enacted in 1968.

The labour relations system specific to the sector and covered by this statute define the framework for negotiation of the collective agreements and for representation by the employer and union parties.

The achievements of the construction industry are part of the daily life of all of us, and they have always been. They mark our history, improve our life today, and are an integral part of our dreams for the future.

  • 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.

  • The industry in numbers
    As of 2019, construction in Québec is:
    • $53 billion of investments in construction;
    • An average of 264,600 jobs per month, or 1 in 20 in Québec;

    The construction industry covered by the Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training, and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry (Act R-20), which the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) has the mandate of administering, is, in 2019:

    • A total payroll of $7,6 billion;
    • 177 million hours worked;
    • 175,893 workers employed in one or several sectors:
      • 62,660 in residential;
      • 117,176 in commercial and institutional;
      • 19,355 in industrial;
      • 41,545 in civil engineering and roadwork;
    • Average hours worked of 1007, or the equivalent of seven months of work;
    • More than 26,000 employers active in one or several sectors:
      • 15,333 in residential;
      • 16,783 in commercial and institutional;
      • 1,614 in industrial;
      • 2,558 in civil engineering and roadwork;
      • About 81% of companies have five employees or fewer and represent only 17% of total payroll, while about 4,981 employers have more than five employees and pay 83% of the salaries.

      For more information, consult the Historical statistics.

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