Results of the annual wage and benefits survey by the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA) says hourly wages for trades have gone up by four cent or more annually in recent years, with a projected 4.8 per cent hike in 2019. A 5.3 per cent wage increase is expected in 2020, bringing the average hourly rate past the $30 threshold and more than double the rate of inflation. “The state of construction in B.C. is strong with just over half our companies expecting more work in 2019 than the year before,” ICBA President Chris Gardner said in a statement revealing the survey results. “The industry is firing on all cylinders and then some.” The report says the biggest increase projected for 2019 is for painters, forecast to get a raise of 5.9 per cent, while truck drivers are expected to see a 5.5 per cent hike. Labourers and refrigeration and HVAC employees are also expected to see their hourly wages rise over five per cent this year. ICBA says construction in B.C. employs nearly 250,000 people, contributing to nearly nine per cent of the province’s GDP. The report says the single biggest threat to the industry is finding enough skilled workers. The survey found 29 per cent of Vancouver Island contractors expect more work in 2019, but 82 per cent say they are short of workers, especially carpenters, labourers and plumbers. That’s up from 76 per cent that said they couldn’t find enough workers in 2018. The survey says 32 per cent of Vancouver Island companies do $10 million in business annually. Although companies expect growth, industry leaders say they are worried about which direction the B.C. government is taking their business. The survey found 51 per cent of respondents believe the B.C. government is on the “wrong track” when dealing with their industry. “The NDP government is actively discriminating against 85% of construction workers in B.C. by forcing them to join a specially-selected union if they want to work on projects like the new Pattullo Bridge,” Gardiner said. “Add in the NDP’s opposition to project likes Trans Mountain and the Massey Tunnel replacement; reams of new red tape; and $5.5 billion in tax hikes, and it’s no wonder so many job creators are worried about the direction B.C. is headed.”A survey of a thousand construction companies in B.C. suggests wage increases will go up 10 per cent in the next two years with increased work expected.