That the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be instructed to undertake a study on the labour shortages of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, to consider, among other things, (i) the challenges associated with a lack of skilled workers in the construction industry, (ii) possible recommendations on how to increase construction skill development in the region, (iii) analysis of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot initiatives as a model to address the skilled worker need in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area; and that the Committee report its findings to the House within six months of the adoption of this motion.
I would like to set the stage for Motion No. 190. Our government is so proud of the $180 billion we are investing in infrastructure. Both our residential and construction sectors as well as our ICI, industrial, commercial, institutional, sectors are experiencing tremendous growth.
We have an economy that has created 600,000 jobs since we took office. Our unemployment rate is at a 40-year low. LNG, the biggest private sector project in Canada's history, was announced yesterday. Our new USMCA trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, in addition to CETA with Europe and our CPTPP deal with our Pacific partners, has put Canada in an enviable position.
Our government is seizing the moment, seizing these opportunities and ensuring that all Canadians, women and girls, men and boys, indigenous, no matter the colour of one's skin, sexual orientation or the place they come from, when they arrived in the country, and they could have come here generations ago or yesterday, are at their best so they can take advantage of these tremendous opportunities and can contribute as a collective and personally to this prosperity, all the while growing our middle class and those working hard to join it.
Today, I am putting forward Motion No. 190, aimed at addressing the ongoing challenges that the construction industry is facing due to a lack of skilled labour in the sector within the greater Toronto Hamilton area, the GTHA. I would like to see recommendations put forward, along with an analysis of Motion No. 39, the Atlantic immigration pilot project as a template and the use of permanent immigration, to assist in addressing this huge challenge.
The homes we live in, the businesses where we work, our hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, underground sewers and pipes, all of those places are built by construction workers. It is hard work, when temperatures on a work site can be as much 30° below, or 38° above or in rain, snow and sleet. In many cases, it is backbreaking work for the men and women who build our cities, towns and villages.
Brick by brick, block by block, stone by stone, these construction mid-level skilled trades like bricklayers, form workers, framers, carpenters are the backbone of the construction industry and they are in short supply across the country. The shortage is exacerbated especially in the high growth greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
These are good-paying, family sustaining jobs, but Canadian parents and schools are not encouraging our kids to get into, as I like to say, “mud on our boots, dirt in our fingernails”, type of work.
I have listened to stakeholders, labour leaders, workers, contractors and industry advocates who have expressed major concerns in regard to a severe labour shortage of qualified employees. With an increased labour shortage, businesses are not only hampered momentarily, but also have significant difficulty planning for future growth.
This motion is geared toward providing residents of my riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, the GTHA and all of Canada with a plan for sustainable economic growth in the construction sector.
The GTHA is home to a thriving construction industry. The construction sector has become Canada's biggest job generator in percentage terms, consistently expanding and currently accounting for almost 5% of the entire Canadian labour market. Over the next 50 years, Statistics Canada projects that the population will grow, reaching an estimated 51 million by 2063. This projected increase in population will continue to drive construction demand for years to come.
However, there is a critical shortage of skilled labour currently. It is expected that across Canada a quarter of the entire construction workforce will retire in the next 10 years. Just in Ontario, the mismatch in skills is projected at a $24.3 billion loss in forgone gross domestic product and $3.7 billion lost in provincial tax.
Besides foregone revenue, the labour shortage has far-reaching consequences for an industry that accounts for 6% of Ontario's GDP. As the Canadian population ages, it is estimated that around 87,000 construction workers will retire within these next 10 years. That is nearly 20% of Ontario's construction workforce.
Looking forward, an aging workforce and retirements will account for a higher share of new job openings over the next decade. While the age profile of the Ontario population is growing older, natural population growth plus immigration to the province should help sustain overall population growth across this scenario period. Nevertheless, the pool of available local youth entering the workforce is in decline, while retirements are on the rise.
Construction employment in Ontario has increased by approximately 200,000 workers since 1997 and now accounts for 6.9% of total employment here in Ontario. However, at the pace the industry is growing, it will need not only to replace the retiring personnel but also to attract additional workers, with an estimated 20,000 to 80,000 new recruits needed by 2027 to keep up with the demand in Ontario alone.
The current apprenticeship system that we have needs to be analyzed in-depth. Multiple studies have shown that the completion rates of apprenticeships are roughly only 50%. Half the apprentices are not persisting.
Currently, a distortion exists between youth, skills and skilled trades. However, as the nature of employment is currently changing, skilled trades will continue to have a strong demand for labour for a long time into the foreseeable future.
Skills Canada has estimated that in the next 10 years, 40% of new jobs will be in the skilled trades, but only 26% of young people aged 13 to 24 consider pursuing a career in the skilled trades. Skilled trades tend to be the second choice for most, with university and college seen as the preferred path. There has to be a concerted effort to demonstrate that trades are an equal route to personal success and satisfaction, and an equal first choice for our youth.
Demand in the construction industry is expected to grow in the foreseeable future. A number of surveys of large and small contractors indicate that 32% of these contractors expect to be doing a lot more business in 2018 compared with 2017, while 51% will be doing at least the business they were doing last year or more. Therefore, we are talking about well north of 80% of these construction businesses saying that theirs is a robust sector. They need more workers. They need skilled labour. Studies all point to a confident, healthy construction sector, but it is experiencing a crisis when it comes to the hands on the job that they need.
Additionally, there will be a continued demand due to growth in immigration, government affordable housing programs, climate change mitigation, maintenance and renovations, and restoration work. Members here have seen all the work around the Hill, and we thank those workers for building up our workplace here.
It is imperative to study the labour shortage in order to create the policies that we need to enable the construction sector to thrive and continue to provide good, well-paying jobs for Canadians.
The incentive towards having young people pursue careers in the skilled trades may take time to catch on and to be implemented. There needs to be a policy implemented that will ensure continuity between a generation of retiring skilled labourers and the construction industry's increasing demand for skilled labour.
In just four years from now, there will be more seniors than youth. By 2030, there will be just two people in the workforce for every one that is retired. This demographic shift that is beginning to take place will have a drastic impact on the labour market and will be especially evident in the construction sector.
Critics argue that the skills shortage is exaggerated as there remains youth unemployment within Canada, yet all these professional associations, those that are on the ground, along with industry professionals, agree there is a shortage in the workforce that will only continue to grow. Unemployment among older and experienced workers is at an all-time low, with numbers dipping under 3%. This trend is indicative that older workers are staying on longer, while younger ones lack the necessary skills to fill those vacancies.
From a policy-making perspective, collaboration with all involved stakeholders is required: employers, apprentices, journeypersons, employees, and organized labour and unions. I want to thank many of them for having had discussions and consultations on this much-needed initiative. The entire scope of the phenomenon needs to be studied.
Private member's motion, Motion No. 39, on immigration to Atlantic Canada, was commissioned to study ways to increase and retain immigrants in Atlantic Canada with an objective of implementing policies that will strengthen the workforce and provide economic growth. Although there are differences between the construction sector and the entire economy of Atlantic Canada, valuable information will become available through that pilot that could assist with this motion.
As the construction industry continues growing, it is also subject to a dramatic demographic shift. Construction has provided opportunities for success for generations of immigrants and Canadians alike. The industry has provided skill-building opportunities while serving as a launching pad for many immigrants coming to Canada in hope of building a better future, helping to construct our homes and building what is now the primary capital asset of so many Canadians. Motion No. 190 hopes to address the current challenges that are associated with the lack of skilled labour in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area in the construction sector. I would like to see recommendations that could be put forward to assist the industry, and to look at the Atlantic experience as a template for how to provide the industry with skilled construction workers.
This is so important. I know right now it focuses on the GTHA as a containment to see how something like this would work before rolling it out across the province and the country. I have spoken to many the members in the House. The member for Kitchener South—Hespeler will be speaking to this and his work within the industry will bring much experience and life to the words I have been saying just now.
When speaking with the members, they tell me about the shortages they are experiencing in their ridings. They have brought support to the motion, understanding full well that employers are coming to their offices the same way they have come to mine, to explain how difficult it is today to find that mid-level skilled labour. It is available. We have workers who come in as temporary foreign workers. They may stay here for a year, two years, three years, four years, but what they are looking for really is to be permanent residents and set a pathway to citizenship.
That is what this motion is about. It is looking for recommendations where we can have a stream of immigration in mid-level construction. We are talking about bricklayers, carpenters, form workers and many of the people we see out on our roads doing that work. That is skilled labour.
I had someone once question whether bricklaying is really skilled labour. He should try laying bricks. It is a skilled job, and they do it so well and do it fast. It is because our young people are not getting into those fields today that we need to fill that gap and then encourage young people to understand that these are good-paying jobs. Yes, they are jobs where they have to work with their hands. They are out there in the field, but they are good-paying jobs, and they will be jobs forever. We have a very young country at 150 years. We are going through a renewal with construction.
I hope I can have the members' support for my Motion No. 190.