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AB construction workers see lowest wage increases

Since the UCP have been in power, wage increases for unionized construction workers in Calgary and Edmonton have been among the lowest in the country.

Statistics Canada recently released data on union workers in the construction sector.

Twice a year, Statistics Canada updates their Construction Union Wage Rate Index. This month’s update is for wages between December 2021 and May 2022.

Union wage rates are published for 17 trades in 25 metropolitan areas and include both basic rates and rates with selected supplementary payments. For Alberta, that includes the cities of Calgary and Edmonton.

I thought I’d compare the various cities for select construction jobs to see how Calgary and Edmonton fared relative to the rest of the country.

The amounts in the tables below are for wages plus selected supplementary payments.

First, let’s look at general labourers.

May
2019
May
2020
May
2021
May
2022
1 month
diff
1 month
diff %
1 year
diff
1 year
diff %
3 years
diff
3 years
diff %
Québec$42.79$43.63$43.63$46.56$1.363.01%$2.936.72%$3.778.81%
Saguenay$42.79$43.63$43.63$46.56$1.363.01%$2.936.72%$3.778.81%
Montréal$42.79$43.63$43.63$46.56$1.363.01%$2.936.72%$3.778.81%
Saint John$35.19$36.19$37.19$38.19$0.000.00%$1.002.69%$3.008.53%
Moncton$35.19$36.19$37.19$38.19$0.000.00%$1.002.69%$3.008.53%
Toronto$54.77$55.99$57.23$57.23$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.464.49%
Ottawa-Gatineau$46.45$47.51$48.56$48.56$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.114.54%
Hamilton$46.77$47.67$48.67$48.67$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.904.06%
St. Catharines-Niagara$46.59$47.49$48.49$48.49$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.904.08%
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$44.81$45.71$46.71$46.71$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.904.24%
Greater Sudbury$43.76$44.61$45.61$45.61$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.854.23%
Oshawa$46.16$47.06$47.96$47.96$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.803.90%
Windsor$46.84$47.64$48.64$48.64$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.803.84%
Thunder Bay$45.92$46.82$47.72$47.72$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.803.92%
London$46.15$46.88$47.61$47.61$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.463.16%
Halifax$41.35$41.63$41.63$42.63$0.601.43%$1.002.40%$1.283.10%
Kelowna$47.57$47.91$48.25$48.59$0.340.70%$0.340.70%$1.022.14%
Vancouver$47.57$47.91$48.25$48.59$0.340.70%$0.340.70%$1.022.14%
Victoria$47.57$47.91$48.25$48.59$0.340.70%$0.340.70%$1.022.14%
St. John’s$49.22$49.57$49.94$49.94$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.721.46%
Calgary$47.23$47.23$47.23$47.49$0.000.00%$0.260.55%$0.260.55%
Regina$45.81$45.81$45.81$45.81$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Saskatoon$45.81$45.81$45.81$45.81$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Edmonton$47.23$47.23$47.23$47.23$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%

What we see here is that unionized construction labourers in Calgary and Edmonton saw some of the smallest increases in wages.

In fact, Edmonton was tied for last place (with Saskatoon and Regina) at no wage increases, not over a 1-month period, not over a 1-year period, and not even during the entire time the UCP have been in power.

Calgary, on the other hand, had the lowest wage increases, of those cities whose workers actually saw wage increases, receiving an additional 26¢ an hour over the last 3 years.

Even when looking at the actual wages, Calgary and Edmonton don’t rank well.

May 2022
Toronto$57.23
St. John’s$49.94
Hamilton$48.67
Windsor$48.64
Kelowna$48.59
Vancouver$48.59
Victoria$48.59
Ottawa-Gatineau$48.56
St. Catharines-Niagara$48.49
Oshawa$47.96
Thunder Bay$47.72
London$47.61
Calgary$47.49
Edmonton$47.23
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$46.71
Québec$46.56
Saguenay$46.56
Montréal$46.56
Regina$45.81
Saskatoon$45.81
Greater Sudbury$45.61
Halifax$42.63
Saint John$38.19
Moncton$38.19

Even though they’re no longer at the bottom of the list, the’re still lower than several other cities, not even making the top 10.

And that’s despite Alberta having the highest median wage in the country, across all industries.

Let’s look at a few other trades. Here’s what wages for carpenters looked like.

May
2019
May
2020
May
2021
May
2022
1 month
diff
1 month
diff %
1 year
diff
1 year
diff %
3 year
diff
3 year
diff %
Saint John$38.74$39.49$40.88$42.49$0.000.00%$1.613.94%$3.759.68%
Québec$52.87$53.94$53.94$56.49$1.122.02%$2.554.73%$3.626.85%
Saguenay$52.87$53.94$53.94$56.49$1.122.02%$2.554.73%$3.626.85%
Montréal$52.87$53.94$53.94$56.49$1.122.02%$2.554.73%$3.626.85%
Moncton$38.75$38.75$41.25$41.25$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.506.45%
Toronto$60.58$61.88$63.08$63.08$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.504.13%
Ottawa-Gatineau$55.17$56.32$57.47$57.47$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.304.17%
Oshawa$54.25$55.35$56.55$56.55$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.304.24%
Greater Sudbury$53.27$54.33$55.44$55.44$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.174.07%
St. Catharines-Niagara$56.36$57.41$58.51$58.51$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.153.81%
Thunder Bay$54.88$55.93$57.03$57.03$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.153.92%
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$52.10$53.10$54.20$54.20$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.104.03%
London$52.02$52.92$53.82$53.82$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.803.46%
Windsor$53.62$54.47$55.32$55.32$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.703.17%
Kelowna$54.28$55.14$55.47$55.79$0.320.58%$0.320.58%$1.512.78%
Vancouver$54.28$55.14$55.47$55.79$0.320.58%$0.320.58%$1.512.78%
Victoria$53.06$53.92$54.25$54.57$0.320.59%$0.320.59%$1.512.85%
Hamilton$55.36$55.66$56.76$56.76$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.402.53%
Halifax$48.87$49.30$49.60$50.20$0.601.21%$0.601.21%$1.332.72%
St. John’s$50.33$50.52$50.72$50.72$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.390.77%
Regina$55.13$55.13$55.13$55.13$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Saskatoon$55.13$55.13$55.13$55.13$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Calgary$55.29$55.29$55.29$55.29$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Edmonton$55.29$55.29$55.29$55.29$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%

It’s even worse for carpenters. Calgary and Edmonton were among just 4 of Canada’s largest cities that saw no wage increases for unionized carpenters. The other two were, again, Regina and Saskatoon.

They were also middle of the pack for how high wages were, relative to the other cities, landing within the bottom half, in 14th and 15th place, respectively.

May 2022
Toronto$63.08
St. Catharines-Niagara$58.51
Ottawa-Gatineau$57.47
Thunder Bay$57.03
Hamilton$56.76
Oshawa$56.55
Québec$56.49
Saguenay$56.49
Montréal$56.49
Kelowna$55.79
Vancouver$55.79
Greater Sudbury$55.44
Windsor$55.32
Calgary$55.29
Edmonton$55.29
Regina$55.13
Saskatoon$55.13
Victoria$54.57
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$54.20
London$53.82
St. John’s$50.72
Halifax$50.20
Saint John$42.49
Moncton$41.25

Roofers, on the other hand, fared marginally better than carpenters.

May
2019
May
2020
May
2021
May
2022
1 month
diff
1 month
diff %
1 year
diff
1 year
diff %
3 year
diff
3 year
diff %
Québec$54.11$55.20$55.20$57.84$1.172.06%$2.644.78%$3.736.89%
Saguenay$54.11$55.20$55.20$57.84$1.172.06%$2.644.78%$3.736.89%
Montréal$54.11$55.20$55.20$57.84$1.172.06%$2.644.78%$3.736.89%
Oshawa$59.01$60.34$61.68$61.68$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.674.52%
Toronto$59.01$60.34$61.68$61.68$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.674.52%
St. John’s$54.61$56.59$57.03$57.03$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.424.43%
Ottawa-Gatineau$51.70$52.98$53.97$53.97$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.274.39%
Greater Sudbury$50.95$52.10$53.14$53.14$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.194.30%
Hamilton$53.43$54.56$55.60$55.60$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.174.06%
St. Catharines-Niagara$53.43$54.56$55.60$55.60$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.174.06%
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$51.25$52.38$53.42$53.42$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.174.23%
Thunder Bay$51.68$52.81$53.85$53.85$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.174.20%
London$51.81$52.94$53.98$53.98$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.174.19%
Windsor$51.38$52.51$53.55$53.55$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.174.22%
Kelowna$41.03$42.06$42.56$43.07$0.511.20%$0.511.20%$2.044.97%
Vancouver$41.03$42.06$42.56$43.07$0.511.20%$0.511.20%$2.044.97%
Halifax$42.02$42.32$42.97$43.77$0.801.86%$0.801.86%$1.754.16%
Saint John$34.07$34.69$35.31$35.31$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.243.64%
Moncton$34.07$34.69$35.31$35.31$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.243.64%
Calgary$48.87$48.87$48.87$49.14$0.000.00%$0.270.55%$0.270.55%
Edmonton$48.87$48.87$48.87$49.14$0.000.00%$0.270.55%$0.270.55%
Regina$32.36$32.36$32.36$32.36$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Saskatoon$32.36$32.36$32.36$32.36$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Victoria$42.32$42.32$42.32$42.32$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%

Over the last 3 years, roofers in Calgary and Edmonton saw wage increases. However, their 27¢ increases were the lowest increases in the country, not including the 3 cities where unionized roofers saw no increases.

May 2022
Oshawa$61.68
Toronto$61.68
Québec$57.84
Saguenay$57.84
Montréal$57.84
St. John’s$57.03
Hamilton$55.60
St. Catharines-Niagara$55.60
London$53.98
Ottawa-Gatineau$53.97
Thunder Bay$53.85
Windsor$53.55
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$53.42
Greater Sudbury$53.14
Calgary$49.14
Edmonton$49.14
Halifax$43.77
Kelowna$43.07
Vancouver$43.07
Victoria$42.32
Saint John$35.31
Moncton$35.31
Regina$32.36
Saskatoon$32.36

Unionized roofers in Calgary and Edmonton, like the labourers and carpenters mentioned above, are paid wages that are ranked among the bottom half—15th and 16th place, respectively.

Plumbers were a bit better off, but not much.

May
2019
May
2020
May
2021
May
2022
1 month
diff
1 month
diff %
1 year
diff
1 year
diff %
3 year
diff
3 year
diff %
Québec$53.85$54.95$54.95$57.59$1.142.02%$2.644.80%$3.746.95%
Saguenay$53.85$54.95$54.95$57.59$1.142.02%$2.644.80%$3.746.95%
Montréal$53.85$54.95$54.95$57.59$1.142.02%$2.644.80%$3.746.95%
Saint John$57.26$58.69$59.43$60.18$0.751.26%$0.751.26%$2.925.10%
Moncton$57.26$58.69$59.43$60.18$0.751.26%$0.751.26%$2.925.10%
Kelowna$60.17$61.59$62.32$63.05$0.731.17%$0.731.17%$2.884.79%
Vancouver$60.17$61.59$62.32$63.05$0.731.17%$0.731.17%$2.884.79%
Toronto$68.15$69.57$71.01$71.01$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.864.20%
St. Catharines-Niagara$61.54$62.85$64.38$64.38$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.844.61%
Hamilton$62.44$63.74$65.26$65.26$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.824.52%
Windsor$62.30$63.60$65.08$65.08$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.784.46%
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$63.10$64.41$65.87$65.87$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.774.39%
Thunder Bay$61.22$62.50$63.99$63.99$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.774.52%
Ottawa-Gatineau$61.36$62.65$64.13$64.13$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.774.51%
Oshawa$62.41$63.71$65.14$65.14$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.734.37%
London$61.16$62.44$63.80$63.80$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.644.32%
Greater Sudbury$61.01$62.29$63.64$63.64$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.634.31%
Halifax$54.65$55.15$55.15$57.25$1.051.87%$2.103.81%$2.604.76%
Victoria$58.78$60.26$60.26$60.98$0.721.19%$0.721.19%$2.203.74%
St. John’s$55.89$56.33$56.77$56.77$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.881.57%
Calgary$60.37$60.37$60.37$60.70$0.000.00%$0.330.55%$0.330.55%
Edmonton$60.37$60.37$60.37$60.70$0.000.00%$0.330.55%$0.330.55%
Regina$58.42$58.42$58.42$58.42$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Saskatoon$58.42$58.42$58.42$58.42$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%

Unionized plumbers in Calgary and Edmonton saw larger wage increases than roofers did, but that 33¢ increased over the last 3 years was the smallest increase seen in the province. That, once again, doesn’t include Regina and Saskatoon, which both saw no increases.

Compare that to Québec City, where unionized workers there saw wages rise by $3.74 over the last 3 years.

May 2022
Toronto$71.01
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$65.87
Hamilton$65.26
Oshawa$65.14
Windsor$65.08
St. Catharines-Niagara$64.38
Ottawa-Gatineau$64.13
Thunder Bay$63.99
London$63.80
Greater Sudbury$63.64
Kelowna$63.05
Vancouver$63.05
Victoria$60.98
Calgary$60.70
Edmonton$60.70
Saint John$60.18
Moncton$60.18
Regina$58.42
Saskatoon$58.42
Québec$57.59
Saguenay$57.59
Montréal$57.59
Halifax$57.25
St. John’s$56.77

And as with the previous 3 jobs I mentioned above, plumbers in Calgary and Edmonton were middle of the pack, coming in at 14th and 15th highest in wages, out of 24 cities.

Next are electrician wages.

May
2019
May
2020
May
2021
May
2022
1 month
diff
1 month
diff %
1 year
diff
1 year
diff %
3 year
diff
3 year
diff %
Saint John$59.24$60.74$62.24$63.74$0.000.00%$1.502.41%$4.507.60%
Moncton$59.24$60.74$62.24$63.74$0.000.00%$1.502.41%$4.507.60%
Québec$55.11$56.23$56.23$58.88$1.151.99%$2.654.71%$3.776.84%
Saguenay$55.11$56.23$56.23$58.88$1.151.99%$2.654.71%$3.776.84%
Montréal$55.11$56.23$56.23$58.88$1.151.99%$2.654.71%$3.776.84%
Windsor$65.67$67.21$68.69$68.69$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$3.024.60%
St. Catharines-Niagara$65.75$67.26$68.76$68.76$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$3.014.58%
Greater Sudbury$65.86$67.36$68.85$68.85$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.994.54%
Oshawa$66.92$68.41$69.89$69.89$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.974.44%
Toronto$66.92$68.41$69.89$69.89$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.974.44%
Hamilton$66.76$68.25$69.73$69.73$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.974.45%
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$65.31$66.80$68.28$68.28$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.974.55%
London$65.15$66.64$68.12$68.12$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.974.56%
Thunder Bay$65.22$66.71$68.19$68.19$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.974.55%
Ottawa-Gatineau$65.68$67.17$68.55$68.55$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.874.37%
Halifax$57.89$58.14$58.14$60.66$1.001.68%$2.524.33%$2.774.78%
Victoria$52.66$54.86$54.86$54.86$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.204.18%
Kelowna$52.94$54.30$54.30$54.30$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.362.57%
Vancouver$52.94$54.30$54.30$54.30$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.362.57%
St. John’s$52.48$52.48$52.48$52.48$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Regina$59.04$59.04$59.04$59.04$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Saskatoon$59.04$59.04$59.04$59.04$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Calgary$60.65$60.65$60.65$60.65$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Edmonton$60.65$60.65$60.65$60.65$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%

Calgary and Edmonton were among 5 cities in Canada where unionized electricians saw no wage increases over the last 3 years. Electricians in New Brunswick’s two largest cities, on the other hand, saw increases of $4.50 an hour during the same period.

May 2022
Oshawa$69.89
Toronto$69.89
Hamilton$69.73
Greater Sudbury$68.85
St. Catharines-Niagara$68.76
Windsor$68.69
Ottawa-Gatineau$68.55
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$68.28
Thunder Bay$68.19
London$68.12
Saint John$63.74
Moncton$63.74
Halifax$60.66
Calgary$60.65
Edmonton$60.65
Regina$59.04
Saskatoon$59.04
Québec$58.88
Saguenay$58.88
Montréal$58.88
Victoria$54.86
Kelowna$54.30
Vancouver$54.30
St. John’s$52.48

Calgary’s and Edmonton’s unionized electricians saw the 14th and 15th highest wages in the country in May 2022.

Next up, heavy equipment operators.

May
2019
May
2020
May
2021
May
2022
1 month
diff
1 month
diff %
1 year
diff
1 year
diff %
3 year
diff
3 year
diff %
Québec$49.06$50.03$50.03$52.42$1.042.02%$2.394.78%$3.366.85%
Saguenay$49.06$50.03$50.03$52.42$1.042.02%$2.394.78%$3.366.85%
Montréal$49.06$50.03$50.03$52.42$1.042.02%$2.394.78%$3.366.85%
Kelowna$59.29$60.96$61.78$62.60$0.821.33%$0.821.33%$3.315.58%
Vancouver$59.29$60.96$61.78$62.60$0.821.33%$0.821.33%$3.315.58%
Victoria$59.29$60.96$61.78$62.60$0.821.33%$0.821.33%$3.315.58%
Oshawa$59.30$60.75$62.00$62.00$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.55%
Toronto$59.30$60.75$62.00$62.00$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.55%
London$57.23$58.68$59.93$59.93$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.72%
Windsor$57.43$58.88$60.13$60.13$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.70%
Greater Sudbury$57.39$58.84$60.09$60.09$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.70%
Ottawa-Gatineau$57.31$58.76$60.01$60.01$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.71%
Hamilton$58.71$60.16$61.41$61.41$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.60%
St. Catharines-Niagara$58.71$60.16$61.41$61.41$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.60%
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$58.71$60.16$61.41$61.41$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.60%
Thunder Bay$57.10$58.55$59.80$59.80$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.73%
Saint John$45.47$46.22$46.97$47.72$0.000.00%$0.751.60%$2.254.95%
Moncton$45.47$46.22$46.97$47.72$0.000.00%$0.751.60%$2.254.95%
St. John’s$49.71$50.45$51.20$51.20$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.493.00%
Calgary$54.43$54.43$54.43$54.73$0.000.00%$0.300.55%$0.300.55%
Edmonton$54.43$54.43$54.43$54.73$0.000.00%$0.300.55%$0.300.55%
Halifax$49.34$49.59$49.59$49.59$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.250.51%
Regina$56.37$56.37$56.37$56.37$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Saskatoon$56.37$56.37$56.37$56.37$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%

Heavy equipment operators fared a bit better in Calgary and Edmonton. While their 30¢ wage increases over the last 3 years weren’t the lowest that unionized construction workers saw in those 2 cities, those increases were still tied for second to lowest. Only Halifax, at 25¢, saw a smaller increase. Unless you also include Regina and Saskatoon, where workers saw no increases.

The worse news for heavy equipment operators in Calgary and Edmonton, however, is how much they were paid relative to their fellow workers in other cities.

May 2022
Kelowna$62.60
Vancouver$62.60
Victoria$62.60
Oshawa$62.00
Toronto$62.00
Hamilton$61.41
St. Catharines-Niagara$61.41
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$61.41
Windsor$60.13
Greater Sudbury$60.09
Ottawa-Gatineau$60.01
London$59.93
Thunder Bay$59.80
Regina$56.37
Saskatoon$56.37
Calgary$54.73
Edmonton$54.73
Québec$52.42
Saguenay$52.42
Montréal$52.42
St. John’s$51.20
Halifax$49.59
Saint John$47.72
Moncton$47.72

They tied for 5th from the bottom, the lowest of all the tradespeople discusses so far.

Finally, we turn to crane operators for the last trade we’ll compare across the country.

May
2019
May
2020
May
2021
May
2022
1 month
diff
1 month
diff %
1 year
diff
1 year
diff %
3 year
diff
3 year
diff %
Québec$51.13$52.16$52.16$54.66$1.102.05%$2.504.79%$3.536.90%
Saguenay$51.13$52.16$52.16$54.66$1.102.05%$2.504.79%$3.536.90%
Montréal$51.13$52.16$52.16$54.66$1.102.05%$2.504.79%$3.536.90%
Kelowna$58.41$60.09$60.90$61.73$0.831.36%$0.831.36%$3.325.68%
Vancouver$58.41$60.09$60.90$61.73$0.831.36%$0.831.36%$3.325.68%
Victoria$58.41$60.09$60.90$61.73$0.831.36%$0.831.36%$3.325.68%
Ottawa-Gatineau$58.62$60.07$61.32$61.32$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.61%
Hamilton$59.94$61.39$62.64$62.64$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.50%
St. Catharines-Niagara$59.94$61.39$62.64$62.64$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.50%
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$59.94$61.39$62.64$62.64$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.50%
London$58.64$60.09$61.34$61.34$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.60%
Windsor$58.86$60.31$61.56$61.56$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.59%
Greater Sudbury$58.82$60.27$61.52$61.52$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.59%
Thunder Bay$58.48$59.93$61.18$61.18$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.62%
Oshawa$60.53$61.98$63.23$63.23$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.46%
Toronto$60.53$61.98$63.23$63.23$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$2.704.46%
Saint John$45.47$46.22$46.97$47.72$0.000.00%$0.751.60%$2.254.95%
Moncton$45.47$46.22$46.97$47.72$0.000.00%$0.751.60%$2.254.95%
St. John’s$50.86$51.62$52.41$52.41$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$1.553.05%
Calgary$57.09$57.09$57.09$57.40$0.000.00%$0.310.54%$0.310.54%
Edmonton$57.09$57.09$57.09$57.40$0.000.00%$0.310.54%$0.310.54%
Halifax$49.75$50.00$50.00$50.00$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.250.50%
Regina$58.43$58.43$58.43$58.43$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%
Saskatoon$58.43$58.43$58.43$58.43$0.000.00%$0.000.00%$0.000.00%

Unionized crane operators in Calgary and Edmonton saw the second lowest wage increases in the country, at 31¢ more an hour than they had been paid in 2019.

Halifax got only 25¢ more an hour, and Regina and Saskatoon saw no wage increases.

May 2022
Oshawa$63.23
Toronto$63.23
Hamilton$62.64
St. Catharines-Niagara$62.64
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo$62.64
Kelowna$61.73
Vancouver$61.73
Victoria$61.73
Windsor$61.56
Greater Sudbury$61.52
London$61.34
Ottawa-Gatineau$61.32
Thunder Bay$61.18
Regina$58.43
Saskatoon$58.43
Calgary$57.40
Edmonton$57.40
Québec$54.66
Saguenay$54.66
Montréal$54.66
St. John’s$52.41
Halifax$50.00
Saint John$47.72
Moncton$47.72

Calgary and Edmonton crane operators were paid the 5th lowest amount, compared to what crane operators were paid in 24 of Canada’s largest cities.

And, like I said, Alberta workers overall have the highest median income in the country, so I would’ve expected construction workers to place much higher than the bottom half in wages.

And I’ll finish off showing how each trade was paid, on average, in the two cities in 2019 and 2022. First, Calgary.

May 2019May 2022Change
Reinforcing steel erector$52.14$54.40$2.26
Bricklayer$48.44$49.75$1.31
Plumber$60.37$60.70$0.33
Structural steel erector$57.51$57.83$0.32
Sheet metal worker$58.26$58.58$0.32
Insulator$56.58$56.89$0.31
Crane operator$57.09$57.40$0.31
Heavy equipment operator$54.43$54.73$0.30
Roofer$48.87$49.14$0.27
Labourer$47.23$47.49$0.26
Carpenter$55.29$55.29$0.00
Painter$52.40$52.40$0.00
Electrician$60.65$60.65$0.00
Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics$62.04$62.04$0.00
Truck driver$55.11$55.11$0.00
Cement finisher$54.28$50.28-$4.00
Plasterer$54.92$50.28-$4.64

Reinforcing steel erectors saw the largest increase in wages over the last 3 years, making $2.26 an hour more than they were in 2019. They’re followed by bricklayers, who are now making an additional $1.31 an hour.

No other trades saw increases above $1 an hour over the last 3 years.

There were 5 trades in Calgary that saw no increases in wages since 2019: carpenters, painters, electricians, HVAC mechanics, and truck drivers.

And two trades—cement finishers and plasterers—were making less last month than they were in May 2019. Those reductions in pay were so large that they brought down the average hourly wage for all unionized construction workers in Calgary from $55.04 in May 2019 to $54.88 in May 2022. Granted the 5 trades that saw wage freezes probably helped, too.

Edmonton’s numbers are pretty similar.

May 2019May 2022Change
Reinforcing steel erector$52.14$54.40$2.26
Bricklayer$48.44$49.75$1.31
Plumber$60.37$60.70$0.33
Structural steel erector$57.51$57.83$0.32
Sheet metal worker$58.26$58.58$0.32
Insulator$56.58$56.89$0.31
Crane operator$57.09$57.40$0.31
Heavy equipment operator$54.43$54.73$0.30
Roofer$48.87$49.14$0.27
Carpenter$55.29$55.29$0.00
Labourer$47.23$47.23$0.00
Painter$52.40$52.40$0.00
Electrician$60.65$60.65$0.00
Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics$62.04$62.04$0.00
Truck driver$55.11$55.11$0.00
Cement finisher$54.28$50.28-$4.00
Plasterer$54.92$50.28-$4.64

The biggest difference is that the labourers and carpenters switch spots between the two cities. As well, Edmonton had 6 trades with no wage increases, while Calgary had 5. Edmonton had the same trades as Calgary without increases, but Edmonton’s labourers also saw no increases.

All the other increases and decreases were the same.

The change in the average wages was pretty similar. Edmonton’s average hourly wage for all unionized construction workers was $55.04 in May 2019—similar to Calgary’s—and it dropped to $54.86 in May 2022, two cents lower than Calgary’s May 2022 average.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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