December 13, 2016 by Corinne Lynds
The morning after Donald Trump was elected 45th president of the United States, my 10-year-old son, Ben, staggered sleepily out of his room with a concerned look on his face. He wanted to know if this meant there was going to be WWIII?
My husband and I, did our best to put his mind at ease, but his concerns reminded me that we’re all curious to know: How will this affect me? And, more specifically, for those of us in the construction sector: How will this affect Canadian contractors?
With these questions in mind, I went searching for some answers. Here are five of the key ways the Trump government could impact Canadian construction in the years to come:
1. Renegotiating trade deals
The president elect campaigned on a pledge to force Mexico and Canada to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, with the intention of providing greater benefits to U.S. businesses. If the countries don’t agree on a new deal, Trump has made it clear that the U.S. will leave NAFTA completely.
With approximately $51 billion in goods crossing the Canada-U.S. border per month, this could have the greatest impact on contractors. It would affect everything from services, to construction materials and equipment.
His policies around trade could create a short-term benefit, though. As manufacturing jobs in the U.S. could grow, thus manufacturing construction would grow as well.
2. Brain poaching potential
Even before the election results were conclusive, the number of Americans searching for jobs in Canada had increased a staggering 58 per cent, according to the jobs-posting platform Monster Worldwide. With an impending skills shortage being the greatest challenge facing our industry, it seems now might be the time to start recruiting civil engineers, equipment operators and young leaders south of the boarder.
3. Is there cash in the pipeline?
Throughout his election campaign, Trump said several times that he’s in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta. Reviving this project may create much-needed jobs in Alberta. That being said, Trump also made it clear if the pipeline were to go ahead, he would only approve it if the U.S. gets a big piece of the deal.
Considering the first policy promotion out of his mouth (in his acceptance speech) was about infrastructure, that bodes well for construction activity in the U.S. Trump’s long-term plan to boost the U.S. economy – creating 25 million jobs and spurring growth through tax cuts and infrastructure spending – could help boost Canada’s economic fortunes, too.
Trump’s short-term mindset on the environment will likely hurt the U.S. (and the world) in the long term.
As I told Ben, you can’t believe everything you hear in the schoolyard, only time will tell if these campaign promises become a reality. Aside from the ridiculous notion of ignoring global warming, Trump’s agenda isn’t entirely bad news for Canada’s construction sector. No matter which side of the debate you are on, there are certainly interesting days ahead in 2017.
With that in mind, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a prosperous New Year.
Corinne Lynds / Editor