As construction output grows strongly in New Brunswick after 2027, the sector must contend with replacing retirees

OTTAWA, March 25, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New Brunswick’s construction sector reported an overall increase in activity in 2023 as growth in the province’s non-residential sector was enough to offset a moderate contraction in its residential sector. A more muted outlook is expected across both segments through 2026 before later years see strong advancements.

BuildForce Canada released its 2024–2033 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report for New Brunswick today. The outlook calls for a strong rebound in the province’s non-residential sector after 2027 as work begins on the Mactaquac Hydro Dam Replacement and several healthcare projects. The province’s residential sector, meanwhile, is projected to return to growth between 2025 and 2029 as interest rates stabilize, and demand for new housing increases.

Construction employment is expected to increase across the forecast period, with the residential sector growing in nearly every year after 2024, and reaching a peak of 8% above 2023 levels by 2033. Non-residential employment follows a similar path, growing consistently after 2026, and rising to 10% above 2023 levels by 2033.

“New Brunswick’s labour force is coming off a period where market conditions were challenging,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “While these pressures are expected to ease and mostly return to balance in the residential sector, some trades and occupations in the non-residential sector may continue to see pressures into 2028. The industry’s challenge across the forecast period will be replacing the pool of retiring workers that is created by an aging provincial demographic.”

Rising demands will require the province’s construction labour force to increase by as many as 3,100 workers across the decade. The retirement of an expected 6,100 workers, or 21% of its 2023 labour force, over the same block of time will increase overall hiring requirements to 9,200 workers. This challenge could be further complicated by the shrinking pool of available new entrants as population growth slows and fewer youth are available to enter the labour force.

These numbers are based on existing known demands and do not take into account public-sector initiatives to address housing affordability challenges, nor the anticipated increase in demand for construction services related to the retrofit of existing residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings to accommodate the electrification of the economy. Both scenarios are addressed in separate reports to be released by BuildForce Canada at a later date.

The industry’s hiring requirement could be partly addressed through the recruitment of a potential 6,000 workers under the age of 30 from the local population, but based on current analysis, a gap of some 3,200 workers may emerge.

The development of skilled tradespersons in the construction industry takes years, and often requires participation in a provincial apprenticeship program. Although registration levels in the province’s 16 largest trade programs have declined by a greater percentage than overall trade employment, the province’s efforts to recruit new workers into the trades may be bearing fruit. Registrations rebounded strongly in 2022, driven by record or near-record levels in several programs. Completions, however, continue to remain below pre-pandemic levels.

“The construction industry remains focused on building a more diverse and inclusive labour force and to that end, our association has been leading a number of initiatives focused on enhancing the recruitment of younger workers into the trades, traditionally under-represented in the province’s construction labour force, such as women, Indigenous People, and particularly leading a large project to find innovative pathways for newcomers into the New Brunswick construction industry,” says John Ryan Morrison, Executive Director of the Construction Association of New Brunswick.

In 2023, there were approximately 3,200 women employed in New Brunswick’s construction industry. That figure was about 400 workers higher than in 2022. Of them, 27% worked on site, directly on construction projects, while the remainder worked off site, primarily in administrative and management-related occupations. Of the 26,100 tradespeople employed in the provincial industry, women made up only 3%.

The Indigenous population is another under-represented group that presents recruitment opportunities for New Brunswick’s construction industry. In 2021, Indigenous workers accounted for approximately 3.7% of the province’s construction labour force, a slight increase from levels observed in 2016. As the Indigenous population is the fastest growing in Canada and Indigenous workers seem predisposed to the pursuit of careers within the sector, there may be scope to further increase the recruitment of Indigenous People into the province’s construction industry.

The construction industry may also leverage newcomers over the coming decade to meet anticipated labour market requirements. Based on current trends, the province is expected to see elevated levels of immigration over the forecast period. This will make newcomers a key contributor to the industry’s labour force. As of 2022, newcomers comprised about 5% of New Brunswick’s construction labour force. That figure is notably below the share in the overall labour force.

“With retirements increasing in the provincial construction labour force, increasing the participation rate of women, Indigenous People, and newcomers to Canada is imperative to ensuring New Brunswick’s construction industry is able to meet its future labour force needs,” says Tom McGinn, Executive Director of the New Brunswick Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association.

BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. Its mandate is to support the labour market development needs of the construction and maintenance industry. As part of these activities, BuildForce works with key industry stakeholders, including contractors, proponents of construction, labour providers, governments, and training providers to identify both demand and supply trends that will impact labour force capacity in the sector, and supports the career searches of job seekers wanting to work in the industry. BuildForce also leads programs and initiatives that support workforce upskilling, workforce productivity improvements, improvements to training modalities, human resource tools to support the adoption of industry best practices, as well as other value-added initiatives focused on supporting the industry’s labour force development needs. Visit

For further information, contact Bill Ferreira, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, at or 613-569-5552 ext. 2220.

This report was produced with the support and input of a variety of provincial construction and maintenance industry stakeholders, and was funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.

For local industry reaction to this latest BuildForce Canada report, please contact:

Tom McGinn 
Executive Director 
New Brunswick Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association 

John Ryan Morrison 
Executive Director 
Construction Association of New Brunswick