Canadian Contractor

By Canadian Contractor staff   

Outlook report for Ontario’s construction labour force: BuildForce Canada

Canadian Contractor

April 26, 2023 – BuildForce Canada released a report called 2023-2032 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward, which analyzed new data about the labour market forecast in Ontario.

The report found that “labour markets for many on Ontario’s construction trades and occupations were strained at the end of 2022. Despite rising interest rates, activity in the residential sector remained strong, spurred by high levels of migration into the province and high levels of renovation activity.”

The province’s number of 25-and-under workers has grown by seven per cent since 2019. From 2023 to 2032, it is estimated that 88,400 new entrants under the age of 20 will join from within Ontario. A projected gap of around 30,500 workers will need to be filled from other sources outside of the existing labour force.

New registrations at Ontario’s 32 largest trade programs hit record levels in 2019, “and have risen faster than employment over the past decade as a whole.”


The report states that based on current pacing of apprenticeships and completion trends, a number of trades may still be at risk for undersupply by 2032. They are: bricklayer, carpenter, construction craft worker, floor covering installer, glazier, heavy-duty equipment operator, industrial instrumentation technician, insulator, mobile crane operator, painter/ decorator, roofer, tractor trailer driver and welder.

In 2022, throughout the province, there were approximately 70,400 tradeswomen. Of them, 23 per cent work onsite. Women represent four per cent of the more than 435,000 tradespeople employed in Ontario.

In 2021, Indigenous tradespeople accounted for three per cent of the labour force, which remains unchanged since 2016.

Immigrants comprised 27 per cent of Ontario’s construction labour force in 2021.

BuildForce’s report broke Ontario into five regions  – Central, Eastern, Greater Toronto Area, Northern, and Southwestern.

Central Ontario

The 2023-2032 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward states that central Ontario has “seen its construction sector bolstered in part by a significant outflow of residents from the Greater Toronto Area in recent years.”

The influx of work-from-home arrangements, improved transit and a lower cost of living have helped to ramp up new-housing construction here.

Non-residential employment will be sustained and is anticipated to add one per cent over 2022 levels.

Eastern Ontario

In Eastern Ontario reported “some of the tightest labour markets in the province in 2022, with most trades and occupations strained.”

Recruiting challenges are expected to ease in the residential sector in the near term. Overall employment rises to a peak in 2027 and moderates thereafter.

Greater Toronto Area

The GTA’s construction market is “underpinned by a series of large-scale public transportation, nuclear refurbishment, new hospital, and other government building restoration projects that bring non-residential employment to a peak in 2027.”

The region’s residential sector is expected bounce back by 2024, and “will be supported by a combination of a growing and aging housing stock that requires continual maintenance, and by a general trend of older individuals investing in their homes to age in place.”

Overall construction employment grows by 27,200 workers, up 16 per cent, over 2022 levels by 2032.

Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario’s market is influenced by activity in the mining and utility.

Both are expected to report strong gains in 2023,” non-residential employment should be sustained at elevated levels through at least 2027. The outlook for the residential sector follows a similar trend.”

Southwestern Ontario

Southwestern Ontario’s market is bolstered by out-migration from the GTA.

The regional residential market is expected to “rise to peak employment by 2027 before receding in later years.”

By 2032, “Southwestern Ontario’s construction sector is expected to contract modestly from elevated 2022 levels.”

With files from BuildForce Canada


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