In: ConstructionNews

BuildForce Canada released its residential employment outlook for 2024-2033 on April 11, which predicts that in order to reach the 5.8 million housing starts over the next 10 years needed to address housing affordability, Canada’s residential construction workforce would need to grow to over 1,030,000 workers – a whopping 83 per cent above the status quo.

“Reaching the Government of Canada’s target of 5.8 million new homes will require nearly doubling housing starts. While that increase in starts should have begun two years ago, the current economic challenges for prospective new home buyers, including higher interest rates and restrictive mortgage rules, did not result in the increase Canada needed, and substantial change is necessary on many fronts to get headed in the right direction. If buyers can’t get a mortgage to buy a home, then builders cannot build,” said CHBA CEO Kevin Lee.

This study of what it will take to meet the government’s housing starts target provides an important sense of the support required on the labour front if housing starts can begin their necessary increase.

BuildForce Canada’s scenario assumes starts would begin to rise this year, peak at 691,600 starts in 2029, and experience a gradual de-escalation from the peak through to 2033. The corresponding escalation in residential construction investment would be 109 per cent, according to BuildForce Canada, which the country needs for its economic growth.

Canada’s residential construction sector is currently struggling with an aging workforce, with over 22 per cent retiring over the next decade, and 40 per cent aging to over the age of 55. The industry has already been dealing for years with the challenge of not having enough new entrants to replenish those who are retiring. Action is needed just to support the status quo, let alone look towards doubling housing starts.

To meet the monumental workforce demands, CHBA is calling on the federal government to support the industry by addressing three pillars. These include encouraging more Canadians to consider a skilled trade, updating the immigration system to proactively attract much-needed skilled workers in residential construction, and support increased productivity as detailed in CHBA’s Sector Transition Strategy.

“Canada must fix the current challenges preventing Canadians from buying homes, especially by supporting first-time buyers’ need to enter the market to drive starts. We also need substantial policy change to get houses built faster and avoid adding more costs through things like development taxes and expensive changes to codes,” said Lee.

“If we can get there, then the industry will indeed be in a position to look to considerably increase housing starts, but will need support to address the labour shortage. A comprehensive approach to financing, policy, labour, and productivity is needed to build 5.8 million homes over the next decade. There are levers the federal government can use to help and CHBA’s recommendations on the federal government role, plus our Sector Transition Strategy, if supported, can get Canada on the right path.”

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