Inflation fallout hitting Saskatchewan construction industry

Rising inflation and high fuel costs causing problems for Saskatchewan construction industry. Global News

The effects of inflation are being seen across the country, whether at the grocery store, the pump or the construction industry.

According to Statistics Canada, building construction costs rose by 22 per cent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Rising inflation coupled with high gas prices have construction industry leaders voicing their concerns.

Read more: Global food, fuel prices won’t ease until 2024 due to Ukraine war: World Bank

With the summer construction season right around the corner, the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association is calling for government relief, saying contracts signed in the fall don’t represent the reality of today.

“There’s an extra cost now, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars that would not have been budgeted during the contract’s inception. We haven’t seen price increases like this in the last 20 years and we don’t forecast any improvement until the fall,” said SHCA president, Shantel Lipp.

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During question period Wednesday, NDP critic Trent Wotherspoon pushed the highways minister to provide some form of respite to the industry with the busy season on the horizon.

“Why won’t this minister just do the right thing and make sure that we’re able to build the roads we need in this building season and commit to some fuel relief to the industry now,” said Wotherspoon.

Wotherspoon referred to other provinces such as Alberta who have paused their provincial fuel tax, saving residents 13 cents per litre of gasoline or diesel until at least June 30.

Read more: Gas tax savings to start for Alberta drivers Friday: ‘Watching like a hawk’

Fred Bradshaw, minister of highways for the Sask Party wasn’t keen on the critiques coming his way.

“They want more money in every area of this budget but they have not presented a plan on how to pay for it. The NDP platform in the 2020 election mentioned highways exactly zero times,” said Bradshaw.

Bradshaw would go on to add that to help with cashflow, the province now pays diesel fuel adjustments monthly rather then upon a projects completion.

This year’s budget has the Sask Party investing $846 million into building and improving the province’s roads and highways.

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For Lipp, all these unforeseen costs provide legitimate concern that some of this year’s highway projects might be deferred, which is never a good thing, she says.

“Because when you stop building you stop growing,” Lipp said.

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How inflation is impacting food prices

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