The construction industry in Canada is massive, employing approximately 1.2 million people, or roughly 7% of the Canadian workforce. That represents a 50% increase in jobs over the previous decade. As Canada’s economy and population continue to grow, owing to immigration, so makes the demand for infrastructure and housing. This has set the construction industry up for rapid growth in the future. Construction contributes about $141 billion to the Canadian economy annually, accounting for 7.5% of Canada’s GDP (GDP). Construction is the backbone of the Canadian economy, responsible for creating and maintaining built infrastructure in cities, towns, and communities.
The construction industry in Canada is expanding due to many factors, including low mortgage rates, pent-up assets, and a general shift in usage away from services and goods. The global pandemic slowed the construction industry’s growth, but the sector has recovered substantially in the last four quarters due to economic recovery.
For example, the value of construction permits has increased significantly, reaching a high of more than US$10 billion in the second quarter of 2021. Notably, the increase in construction activity is in three major sectors: residential, industrial, and commercial workplace expansion.
Residential | Construction Industry
Residential construction in Canada is increasing for all housing typologies, from single-family homes to high-rise condominiums. Development in rental apartment housing to meet the increasing demands in urban cities over the next 4 to 8 quarters. Overall, significant growth will be in the residential construction sector.
Low vacancy rates and demand for physical goods drive growth in the industrial sector. JLL Canada estimates that more than 36 million square feet of industrial space will be under construction by December 2021. These will help the country’s overall construction industry grow over the next four to eight quarters.
Commercial building projects will contribute to the industry’s growth in Canada over the next 4 to 8 quarters. Even as the prospect of the workplace remains uncertain, 19 million square feet of office space is constructed across the country. Overall, significant growth in the Canadian construction sector will happen in the coming years.
Large Infrastructure Construction Projects Are Expected To Boost The Industry’s Growth In Canada
Over the next few quarters, the Canadian government will be investing in transit projects. Transit projects dominate the public sector infrastructure projects currently under construction in 2022. As an example,
The GO Expansion – On Corridor project is one of the country’s most significant infrastructure projects. The construction project includes rehabilitating and renewing the railway transit corridor and civil infrastructure. The construction project is scheduled to be finished in 2025, with a total investment of $15.705 billion.
Other transit projects in the country, including the Ontario Line (US$10.9 billion), Reseau Express Metropolitan (REM) (US$6.32 billion), and Hurontario LRT (US$5.632 billion), are expected to support the growth of the Canadian construction industry in short to medium term goal.
Apart from these transit infrastructure projects, the construction of the US$12.8 billion Darlington Nuclear Generating Station refurbishment project and the US$10.7 billion Site C Clean Energy Project will support the growth of the Canadian construction industry over the next four to eight quarters.
The increasing investment in infrastructure construction projects to support the overall growth of the Canadian industry in short to medium-term perspective.
Employment | Construction Industry
The construction industry will grow significantly in the coming years, requiring more workers on the ground to meet demand. While most of the sector’s growth will occur by 2025, all industries across the province will need to replace close to 259,100 workers by the end of the decade due to retirements, according to to Build Force Canada’s national report, Construction and Maintenance: Looking Forward (2021-2030). These represent nearly 22% of the current workforce. The report also predicted that construction employment would increase by 64,900 over the next ten years.
Construction is a significant sector that significantly contributes to Canada’s economic growth. It is an investment-driven sector that relies on the trust of businesses and governments, both national and international, to thrive. Construction contributes to employment, R&D, commerce, and infrastructure.
The Canadian construction sector is keen on fostering and driving innovation. Artificial intelligence, drones, and 3D modelling, as well as effective project delivery models, are reducing waste, increasing productivity, and promoting sustainability in the construction industry. Automation is a potential threat in many job sectors, including the construction industry. However, the construction sector remains at relatively low risk for technological job losses compared to the manufacturing, retail, and agriculture industries. Much of the daily work in construction is challenging to duplicate with machines, which protects it to some extent from the effects of automation.
The Canadian government has pledged to build and maintain infrastructure throughout the country. They have allocated over $180 billion (CAD) in infrastructure over the next decade under the ‘Investing in Canada Plan.’ The plan involves long-awaited funding projects such as public transportation, affordable housing, and rural community development. Another investment area is green energy.
Forecasting For 2024 | Construction Industry
By 2024, the Canadian construction industry will grow at an 8.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). This will increase the value of Canada’s construction industry to $354.9 billion (USD).
- Value of Industry [online], (no date). Canadian Construction Association. [Viewed 18 November 2022]. Available from: https://www.cca-acc.com/about-us/value-of-industry/
- Trends in Canada Construction Industry [online], (no date). Full-Time Jobs, Temp Jobs, Staffing & Recruitment | Randstad Canada. [Viewed 18 November 2022]. Available from: https://www.randstad.ca/job-seeker/career-resources/working-in-canada/trends-in-canadas-construction-industry/
- Topic: Construction Industry in Canada [online], (no date). Statista. [Viewed 18 November 2022]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/topics/5206/construction-industry-in-canada/#topicHeader__wrapper