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Survey snippet 4: Operators earnings vary

Sept. 12, 2018 - On average, forestry equipment operators and drivers across Canada are earning $29 per hour, although, not surprisingly, the rates vary significantly by region.

September 12, 2018  By  Maria Church

Based on results from the 2018 CFI Contractor Survey, operators in the B.C. Coast earn the most, with an average rate of $37 per hour.

The rates decrease as you go east, with Atlantic Canada operators earning the lowest wage at an average of $20 per hour. These reported rates do not include benefits.

The regional discrepancies are even more telling when the data is broken down into wage ranges.

In the B.C. Coast, 92 per cent of contractors pay over $30/hour, with the remaining eight per cent paying between $26 and $30/hour. Interior contractors all pay at least $26, while a mere seven per cent of contractors in Alberta pay less than $26/hour. These numbers are not surprising given the competition for labour from industries such as mining and oil and gas in Western Canada.


Ontario and Quebec have a similar numbers, with the bulk of operators making between $21 and $30 per hour and none receiving wages over $30. Quebec also has a small pocket (9%) of contractors who pay between $16 and $20/hour. With jobs harder to come by in Atlantic Canada, it’s not surprising that this region pays the lowest wages. More than half of contractors pay between $16 and $20 per hour, with another 37 per cent offering $21-$25/hour.

When compared to the results from our 2016 survey, fewer operators are making more than $26/hour in 2018, although the number is still well over half at 62 per cent compared to 66 per cent in 2016. A handful more operators make between $21 and $25/hour – 18 per cent in 2018 compared to 17 per cent in 2016.

While more operators earn between $16 and $20/hour in 2018 (13% compared to 9% in 2016), no contractors are paying less than $15/per hour in 2018, whereas three per cent of operators earned this wage in 2016. Seven per cent of the 2018 respondents say they have no employees.

Missed last week’s survey snippet? Find a collection of reports published to date here. Look for more news from the CFI 2018 Contractor Survey in our enews over the coming weeks, with a final digital report in December and a summary in the November/December print issue. Be sure to subscribe to our free enews to get all the latest industry news. 

The survey was conducted in June 2018 by independent research firm Bramm & Associates, generating over 275 replies to a detailed list of questions. Respondents were distributed according to the geographic breakdown of the forest industry, with 40 per cent in Western Canada, 25 per cent in Quebec, and the rest found in Ontario, Atlantic Canada, and central Canada. Within B.C. responses were split between the BC coast and Interior. Many thanks to our sponsors for making the research possible – Hultdins and Tigercat.

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