The construction sector is a massive industry in Canada, employing approximately 1.2 million men and women, or approximately 7% of the Canadian workforce. That’s a 50% increase in jobs from the prior decade. As Canada’s economy and population continue to rise, largely due to strong immigration, the need for infrastructure and housing continues to expand as well. That’s positioned the construction industry for strong growth in the coming years. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a blow to the construction sector, like most of the economy, however when the storm passes, it’s widely expected the construction sector will rebound swiftly.
what’s happening now
the construction sector will shrink 7% in 2020.
The construction sector was able to navigate 2020 relatively unscathed compared to many other industries. The small downturn is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns that happened in the early stages of the crisis. Strict safety protocols were put in place and work sites and operations have resumed in most locations. It’s widely expected that this downturn was a minor blip due to the pandemic and the construction industry will bounce back better than ever in 2021.
high-value projects are breaking ground.
There’s no shortage of big construction projects on the horizon. High-value public and private sector projects continue to break ground at a steady clip, despite the challenges of the pandemic. Major projects such as the Bellechasse Transport Centre in Montreal, Calgary’s Complex Continuing Care Facility, and the new Brampton Transit Facility are just a few examples of $100 million+ projects expected to break ground in the final months of 2020.
investments in infrastructure are also strong.
Big investments in construction are planned across the country. For instance, the Governments of Canada and Alberta have committed over $52.7 million to the completion of several infrastructure projects through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) has earmarked $150 million for the repair and improvement of community infrastructure facilities across the country. TC Energy has approved construction of an $8 billion project to transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of oil from Alberta to Nebraska, which is about one-fifth of all the oil Canada transports to the United States each day.
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where we’re headed next
forecasting for 2021.
The construction industry in Canada is expected to record a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.5% by 2024. That will make Canada’s construction sector worth a massive $354.9 billion (USD). 2021 is widely expected to be a strong growth year as the sector picks up steam and reengages all projects that were put on hold or delayed during the pandemic in 2020. Very few projects have been cancelled outright, which is good news for a swift recovery.
future investments are already in the works.
The Canadian government has committed to building and maintaining infrastructure across the country. Under the ‘Investing in Canada Plan’, they have earmarked over $180 billion (CAD) in key infrastructure over the next decade. The plan includes funding for long-waited projects related to public transit, affordable housing, and developing rural communities, among others. Green energy is another core investment area, with a focus on sustainability and stimulating local economies.
jobs are being created.
With the construction sector projecting strong growth in the coming years, more boots will be needed on the ground to keep up with demand. It’s forecasted that 100,000 new jobs will be created in the Canadian construction sector as the mining, oil and gas, electricity and transportation sectors expand rapidly. In addition to the net-new jobs, retiring construction workers will also need to be replaced. Approximately 320,000 retirements are expected to take place over the next few years.
keep an eye on the impact of automation.
Automation continues to be seen as a potential threat in many job sectors, and the construction industry is no exception. That said, the construction sector remains fairly low-risk for automation-related job losses compared to industries like manufacturing, retail, and agriculture. A lot of the day-to-day work in construction is difficult to replicate with machines, which safeguards it from the impacts of automation, to a degree.