Ontario seen needing 74,000 construction workers

The Canadian PressĀ – July 11, 2008

KINGSTON, Ont. - Ontario’s Construction Sector Council says the province’s construction industry is expected to maintain manageable growth over the next eight years despite a weakening economy, and to need 74,000 new workers.

In the fourth annual edition of its “Construction Looking Forward” report released today, the council said that after a decade of steady growth and employment for many trades at or near record levels in 2007, the outlook for the industry remains positive for 2008 and beyond.

“Construction Looking Forward” is a detailed forecast of labour market trends from 2008 to 2016 in Ontario.

However, the construction industry was among the sectors losing jobs in June as the country’s unemployment rate edged up to 6.2 per cent from 6.1 per cent the previous month, according to Statistics Canada.

“While there is some risk of an economic slowdown affecting Ontario, the level of growth for construction over the next eight years remains very positive,” said Ron Martin, executive director of the Sudbury Construction Association.

He said “major projects underway and proposed will add significant construction related employment in the province.”

Between 2008 and 2016, said the council, as many as 17,600 new workers are required to keep pace with new projects, while another 56,300 workers are needed to replace retiring baby boomers.

“This doesn’t include several major projects that are under review,” said Ron McGillis, manager of safety compliance and contractor quality at Ontario Power Generation.

“Recent announcements of a nuclear reactor facility, the potential for a new oil refinery in southern Ontario, and increased infrastructure investment will generate added employment opportunities for Ontario workers,” he said.

Patrick Dillon, business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, said that for the province’s construction industry, “it will remain important to promote careers, attract youth and enhance training programs.”

This support, he said, “is needed both to deepen the ranks of skilled workers for new construction and to replace retiring workers.”

Richard Lyall, president of RESCON, a builders’ organization, said “addressing the increasing need for more skilled construction workers in Ontario is crucial and we must make recruitment and training a priority.”

Construction is one of the largest industries in Canada, employing more than a million people. National employment across the entire construction industry has risen by a record 39 per cent over the past five years.

The Construction Sector Council is committed to developing a highly skilled workforce. Created in April of 2001, and financed by both government and industry, the CSC is a partnership between labour and business.

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