Canada’s Construction Industry Feels Impact Of Lower Commodity Prices

January 18, 2016

Ottawa – Construction will gain momentum in some regions while others feel the impact of lower commodity prices, delayed or cancelled projects and declining employment. As conditions unfold across the provinces, workforce mobility continues to play an important role in meeting industry’s regional labour requirements.

Mobility, along with an aging workforce are key themes according to the latest labour market forecast released today by BuildForce Canada.

“Shifting demographics and market conditions require a construction workforce with the flexibility to move with the times and the jobs,” said Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “The reality is that in many provinces, the local workforce may not be enough to counter rising retirements and fill the jobs, especially when major projects gear up.”

BuildForce Canada’s 2016‒2025 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows that while the rate of construction job growth has slowed, most provinces will be recruiting for major projects, including electrical generation and transmission, commercial and industrial building, pipelines and LNG plants from now to 2019. Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador are the exception, with employment falling as current major projects are completed and proposed projects are delayed or cancelled. Overall conditions in Alberta are more complex where new investment declines, however, and there is evidence of potential recruiting challenges in other markets. Over the last decade there has been significant expansion in oil sands capacity and a growing commitment to maintenance and investments to sustain current production.

New home building is flat or declining in most provinces, with the exception of Quebec until 2017, and Ontario and Manitoba, where residential construction is expected to rise from now to 2018. While new housing slows across the scenario period, renovation work continues to rise across all provinces.

Across the 2016-2025 scenario, many of the 11,000 new jobs are in home renovation and industrial maintenance. Up to 250,000 construction workers, or 21 percent of the workforce, is set to retire in the next 10 years.

“Right across Canada, the biggest challenge is offsetting a rapidly aging construction workforce,” added Sparks. “With fewer skilled workers available to replace them, industry is facing a significant gap in skills and experience.”

Highlights of BuildForce Canada’s 2016‒2025 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast can be found for each province at

BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. Its mandate is to provide accurate and timely labour market data and analysis, as well as programs and initiatives to help manage workforce requirements and build the capacity and the capability of Canada’s construction and maintenance workforce.

For further information, contact: Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, or (905)-852-9186

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program