The Ontario construction industry has risen steadily for the past 20 years. Since 2002, the industry has experience growth of nearly 50%, with employment opportunities equally split between residential and non-residential opportunities.
Employment opportunities are equally strong within the industry. The current unemployment rates in Ontario are at levels similar to what was experienced before the 2008 economic downturn. Four consecutive years of growth have spanned every sector and region in the province, despite the challenges of an aging workforce and skilled labor shortages.
Total investment into the construction industry in Canada has doubled since 2004, rising from $154 billion to over $300 billion. Employment growth has risen by 86% nationwide, which is a trend that is also being seen in the province.
Interesting Ontario Construction Industry Statistics
#1. In 2016, the Ontario construction industry employed a total of 503,700 people. The industry contributed 6.1% to the GDP of the province when civil engineering, heavy engineering, and non-residential construct segments are combined with the residential segment. (Government of Canada Job Bank)
#2. The construction industry is expected to lose 86,000 workers, or 18% of its current employment, to retirement within the next 10 years. (Government of Canada Job Bank)
#3. Provincial housing starts rose by 9% in 2016, which followed a 17.7% increase in 2015, fueled by a first-time home buyer tax incentive. (Government of Canada Job Bank)
#4. For 2018, the construction industry in Canada is expected to grow by 4%, compared to GDP growth of 1.9%. (CRH Americas)
#5. One in 13 workers in Canada earns wages because of the construction industry. About one-third of the employment opportunities available in the country are found in the province of Ontario. (BuildForce Canada)
#6. More than 368,000 firms are currently active in Canada’s construction industry, repairing and maintaining over $2.3 trillion in assets. (BuildForce Canada)
#7. The average age of a construction worker for the Ontario construction industry is 42. (BuildForce Canada)
#8. 30% of the employment opportunities in the Ontario construction industry involve residential renovation and maintenance. New housing opportunities come in second (21%), which is the same percentage of engineering opportunities. 18% of workers are in the industrial, commercial, or institutional segment of the industry.
#9. In 2017, housing starts surpassed 80,000 units across the province, which is a second consecutive year of increases that drove demand beyond the capabilities of the available workforce. (BuildForce Canada)
#10. 32% of firms in the Ontario construction industry anticipate that they will be busier in the coming year than they were in the previous year. Half of all contractors say that they expect to be as busy in the coming year as they were the year before. (Ontario Construction Report)
#11. 34% of contractors say that they are optimistic for added business in Central Ontario, compared to the 32% of contractors who feel the same way about the Greater Toronto Area. (Ontario Construction Report)
#12. 47% of the firms working within the engineering sector of the industry are optimistic about an increase in activities in the coming 12 months. 39% of contractors in the high-rise and institutional sectors feel the same way, whereas just 27% of contractors in the industrial sector believe they’ll see an increase in work. (Ontario Construction Report)
#13. Downtown vacancy rates in office buildings in Toronto were just 4%, which was the lowest rate in the country. For comparison, the vacancy rates in Calgary were 27% in the past year. (On Site Magazine)
#14. 24% of contractors report that carpenters are in short supply for the Ontario construction industry, which is the greatest shortage for a skilled trade. Electricians are in second, with 20% of contractors reporting shortages. They are followed by plumbers and steamfitters (13%), general laborers (12%), and operating engineers (11%). (Ontario Construction Report)
#15. 80% of contractors working in the Ontario construction industry report operating at a capacity level of 75% or higher. (Ontario Construction Report)
#16. 50% of the firms operating in the Greater Toronto Area report that their economic outlook is good, which is the highest in the province. Central Ontario is second, at 47% of firms. They are followed by 35% of firms in the North, 34% of firms in the Southwest, and just 15% of firms in the East. (Ontario Construction Report)
#17. 37% of firms anticipate hiring more non-union workers in the next 12 months to meet project expectations, compared to just 29% of firms hiring union workers. (Ontario Construction Report)
#18. 32% of firms in the Greater Toronto Area expect to hire more employees in the next 12 months. In the North, layoffs are expected. The outlier here is the East, where 15% of firms expect to hire more workers, despite only 15% of firms having a positive outlook on the local economy. (Ontario Construction Report)
#19. Anticipated construction costs are based primarily on oil prices. In 2015, when oil prices took a steep slide, the number of contractors expecting an increase in costs dropped by 10 percentage points. The number of contractors expecting a rise in transportation costs dropped by 41 percentage points at the same time. (Ontario Construction Report)
#20. Unionized firms are twice as likely as non-unionized firms to report hiring 5+ apprentices over the past 12 months. 70% of unionized contractors have apprentices on their staff. (Ontario Construction Report)
#21. Only 44% of contractors in Central Ontario report employing at least one apprentice, which is the lowest rate in all the provincial regions. (Ontario Construction Report)
Ontario Construction Industry Trends and Analysis
Looking at the next 10 years for the Ontario construction industry, the overall demand in each segment is expected to strength. Look for moderate in the pace of growth that occurs, with a rise in infrastructure and public transportation projects leading the way. Government policies and migration activities will fuel the strength of the residential sector.
Available staffing will also dictate how much the industry is able to grow, with 1 in 5 workers expected to retire before the end of the next 10-year period. Without aggressive recruitment policies and additional training efforts for provincial youth, the industry may see itself forced into a decline despite having growth in overall opportunities.
At the moment, the industry is expected to attract about the same number of workers that are expected to retire. With housing starts increasing sharply, an additional 23,000 workers may be required to fill shortages in the upcoming years.
Strong demand levels are expected to remain. The challenges faced by the industry can be solved through education, training, and population movement. Unless another economic downturn occurs, the future of the Ontario construction industry remains bright.
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