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Stimulus and private sector key to construction industry’s resurgence

July 6, 2010

How quickly British Columbia’s construction industry emerges from the steep downturn that began in 2008 will depend on the timing of government stimulus and the resurgence of private-sector-led projects, says a newly released report by the Construction Sector Council (CSC).

In its annual report on the supply and demand for construction labour in B.C., the CSC estimated that construction employment fell by 15 percent with the loss of over 21,000 jobs during the downturn.

“The Home Renovation Tax Credit, and other government investment in social and First Nations public housing infrastructure, have helped labour markets through the downturn. These programs support economic growth and provide opportunities for skilled workers,” says M.J. Whitemarsh, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC, who notes that in general, construction workers faced 10% to 15% job losses (21,000 jobs) in the downturn.

But the provincial Construction Looking Forward report estimates the return of stronger labour markets for much of the forecast period.

“Industry and governments must also consider that the demographic challenge is here today and that we need to continue to address our labour market needs,” says Wayne Peppard, Executive Director of the British Columbia and Yukon Building Trades.

Looking ahead until 2018, the B.C. scenario indicates 28,000 workers will retire, 3,700 positions will be lost due to mortality, and 27,400 new jobs will be created. And it estimates that the 24,000 new entrants will not be enough to meet demand.

“There will not be enough new workers to fill labour requirements, so our priorities will be on recruiting, training and career promotion that targets all potential sources of labour,” says Manley McLachlan, President of the British Columbia Construction Association, who also noted that, “Construction managers, contractors and supervisors will be in high demand throughout most of the forecast period.

The CSC compiles reports for each province following consultations with industry leaders, as well as governments and educational institutions. The national and regional scenario-based forecasts are released annually and are available online at www.csc-ca.org. In addition, all scenario-based forecast data is available at www.constructionforecasts.ca.

The Construction Sector Council is Canada’s most reliable source for labour market forecasting and commentary. The CSC is a national industry organization funded by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program. The CSC is committed to maintaining and developing a highly skilled workforce – one that will support the future needs of the construction industry in Canada.

For more information, contact:
Alix Russell
Director of Communications
Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC
(604) 785-2227

Rosemary Sparks
Construction Sector Council
(905) 852-9186