Wilkes speaks out as builder jobs fall
August 14, 2019
As Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) president and CEO David Wilkes’ op-ed column appeared in a Toronto newspaper detailing the importance of his industry in local job generation, a report was released warning of a big loss of jobs in Ontario’s residential construction sector.
Wilkes wrote that home building creates, on average, more than 120,000 jobs annually—both on-site in the trades and construction positions, and off-site in the planning, design, architectural, engineering, financial and support services.
“These are local jobs, and the industry adds more than $7 billion in wages to the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] economy,” he explained.
Days later, on August 5, the Residential Construction Council of Ontario released a study showing a 25 per cent drop in residential construction jobs during the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2018. The first to feel the effect were framers and those working on foundation, but the losses could spread to other finishing trades, the Council said.
The big hit came in June, when Ontario shed 23 per cent of home building jobs—dropping to 86,000 positions compared to 123,000 in June 2018. About 50 per cent of the job losses were in the GTA.
The employment dip shadows a decline in GTA home starts in June, which saw detached house starts fall by 42 per cent and semi-detached starts drop 38 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier. Total housing starts in the GTA were down 50 per cent in the first six months of this year as compared to the first half of 2018, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.(CMHC).
The latest July data suggests that Ontario may not immediately share in higher residential construction levels. CMHC reports that national starts in July reached 208,970 units on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from 205,765 starts a month earlier.
However, total housing starts trended lower in July in the GTA, primarily driven by lower multi-unit starts, such as condo apartments, which had been strong for the last four years.
Wilkes said the federal mortgage stress test and provincial government measures to cool the housing market have reduced the ability of some people to buy a home.