Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry at risk of losing thousands of workers

January 31, 2018

Ottawa – Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry is expected to lose up to 30 percent of its workforce, or as many as 6,800 workers, over the next four years as major projects wind down, workers leave the province, and others retire, according to the latest labour market forecast released today by BuildForce Canada.

“The biggest risk is that the industry won’t have the workers it needs when projects ramp back up,” said Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “The challenge now is attracting, training, and retaining enough workers in a slower-growth environment so as to not erode the industry’s capacity to meet future construction demands.”

BuildForce Canada’s 2018–2027 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows construction employment is well into a pronounced down-cycle that extends into the mid 2000s. Project completions coupled with a prolonged decline in new residential and non-residential ICI (industrial, commercial, institutional) building construction is likely to reduce the workforce by 20 percent, or 1,600 workers, by 2021. Work on the Muskrat Falls hydro project is winding down, while the start of the Husky West White Rose Extension offshore platform project will only partially offset anticipated job losses over the next few years. Fewer housing starts and softening renovation activity should contribute to a steady, but modest slide in residential employment between now and 2021 before returning to near 2017 levels by the end of the forecast period. Overall, construction demands are expected to stabilize across most markets starting in 2025.

BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows:

  • Non-residential employment remains 15 percent below 2017 levels until potential new resource projects start up later this decade.
  • Residential employment is expected to decline by 4 percent, with most reductions in the next five years.
  • More than 6,000 workers are expected to retire from the province’s construction industry this decade.

“The province is losing almost a quarter of its workforce to retirements,” added Ferreira. “A declining population and shrinking pool of young workers means the industry has to work hard at countering the impact of retirements to sustain its workforce.”

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. Visit

For further information, contact Bill Ferreira, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, at or (613)-569-5552 ext. 222.

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program