Wood Business

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Survey Snippet #5 – Machine operator earnings

July 19, 2016 – Not surprisingly, equipment operator rates vary greatly by company size, but more importantly by region. Recent events in Alberta aside, competition for labour is generally more intense as you head west, facts that weigh on our 2016 survey results.

Operator rates pie chart
 

Overall, as seen in the pie chart above, the bulk of operators make more than $26/hr, benefits excluded. But those wages really reflect the larger operators.

In fact only 27 per cent of operators working in smaller companies, those with earnings of $1M or less, make $26/hr or more. The bulk of these contractors who have operators (43%) pay between $21 and $25/hr, while 30 per cent pay less than $20/hr. Almost 20 per cent of these contractors do not hire any operators, with either themselves or a business partner running the machines.

In contrast, almost all the largest contractors (>$5M) pay their operators above $26/hr, with 59 per cent paying over $30/hr. In short, these employers are creating valuable employment for their communities.

operator rates by company size
 
Operator rates by region
Regardless of company size, rates above $30/hr are mostly a western phenomenon, with 76 per cent of BC Coast contractors paying those rates, followed by Alberta (55%) and the Interior (44%). In all three regions, between 94 and 100 per cent of operators make over $26/hr. In the east, only Quebec had contractors paying above $30/hr (13%), likely in regions that compete with such industries as mining for labour.

In contrast, the other side of the country moves in the opposite direction, with the bulk making $25/hr or less. In Ontario $21-$25/hr is more the norm (62%), while in Quebec rates are split between $21-$25/hr (44%) and $20 or less (26%). The vast majority of operators in Atlantic Canada (80%) make $20/hr or less.

operator rates by region
 

Look for Survey Snippet #6 next week, when we look at machinery operator benefits by company size and region.

Find more news from the CFI 2016 Contractor Survey on www.woodbusiness.ca and in our enews in the coming months, with a final digital report in August and a summary in the Sept/Oct print issue. Be sure to subscribe to the enews to get every item.

Missed Survey Snippet #4 – Things getting better? Read it here.


The survey was conducted in April 2016 by independent research firm Bramm & Associates, generating over 230 replies to a detailed list of questions. Respondents were distributed according to the geographic breakdown of the forest industry, with 50 per cent in Western Canada, 25 per cent in Quebec, and the rest found in Ontario, Atlantic Canada, and central Canada. Within BC responses were almost evenly split between the BC coast and Interior. Many thanks to our sponsors for making the research possible – Hultdins, Stihl, Tigercat and Ponsse. Also made possible with support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC).