Feds recruit immigrants as home builders
August 16, 2023
Facing a new housing shortage during an immigration surge and lack of tradespeople, the federal government is recruiting more immigrants into the construction trades.
The Canadian construction industry shed 45,000 jobs in July 2023 according to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey, released August 4. This marked a month-over-month decrease of 2.8 per cent and followed a decline of 0.8 per cent observed from May to June.
Though the share of new immigrants in construction is currently just 2 per cent, Canada’s housing minister Sean Fraser is hopeful that the federal government’s recent move will help to substantially supplement the workforce.
Immigration applicants skilled in trades, including carpenters, plumbers, electricians, welders, contractors, and residential and commercial installers, are among those being given preference.
“Since January 2023, employment in construction decreased by 71,000, offsetting cumulative increases of 65,000 from September 2022 to January 2023,” according to Statistics Canada.
Job loss between June and July 2023 was most concentrated in British Columbia (roughly 21,000 jobs), Quebec (about 11,000 jobs), and Ontario (approximately 9,000 jobs).
Overall, the sector lost more jobs than any other industry included in the Statistics Canada survey.
According to some analysts, the lack of workers leads to delays in new home construction just when it is most needed.
“Ask any developer about supply issues and the availability of labour usually tops the list,” noted Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC. “With no less than 80,000 vacancies in the industry, the vacancy rate is at a record high and a full percentage point above the national average.”