Increasing the supply of new housing units will require significant increases in Canada’s residential and non-residential construction labour forces

OTTAWA, April 11, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Meeting Canada’s housing supply targets to help improve affordability will require the construction industry’s residential and non-residential labour forces to grow significantly over the next decade.

BuildForce Canada released its Residential Scenario Outlook, 2024 to 2033 report today. It finds that, for the construction industry to address the housing supply gap identified by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) of 3.5 million additional housing units this decade over and above what it normally builds, the residential construction sector will need to grow its labour force by 83% above 2023 levels – to just under 1.04 million workers. Meanwhile, the non-residential construction sector, which builds and installs the essential infrastructure such as roads and sewers that support the construction of new housing, will need to expand its labour force by an additional 19% above 2023 levels.

“Our report models two scenarios. Our baseline scenario tracks the impacts on the residential construction labour force under business-as-usual conditions. Our alternative scenario models the impacts on the labour force created by the drive to achieve federal housing affordability targets,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “Achieving the targets described in the alternative scenario would require a significant increase in the annual rate of housing starts over the next decade. This increase would be set to occur in an environment where the construction sector is already struggling in terms of labour to keep up with current demand levels.”

Under the alternative scenario, housing starts increase by 149% above baseline levels over the next 10 years to meet affordability goals. Housing starts will rise from just over 233,000 units in 2023 to approximately 662,000 units by 2033.

The impacts of this increase will be felt most in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia, where the housing affordability gaps are greatest. Each province could require a doubling or near-doubling of their respective residential construction labour forces to accommodate the projected growth.

“Canada’s construction labour markets are already operating under challenging conditions,” says Ferreira. “Meeting these ambitious new-housing targets will depend on the industry’s ability to ensure a balanced and sustainable approach to labour force development and resource allocation.”

"Meeting the workforce demands to address housing affordability over the next decade will require targeted and monumental recruitment efforts from industry, trades schools, and government,” says Kevin Lee, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. “We need to continue to actively recruit Canadians into the skilled trades and residential construction sector, reform the immigration system to allow in new Canadians who have the skills and aptitude to build homes, and bolster innovation and support productivity through de-risking investment in factory-built systems.”

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

About BuildForce Canada
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.