120,000 new workers needed in Ontario: CSC

The Construction Sector Council (CSC) is predicting construction in Ontario will need to recruit an additional 120,000 workers, from 2012 to 2020, thanks to mining in the Ring of Fire Region, investments in nuclear power plants and institutional projects driving demand.

The Ottawa think tank recently released “Construction Looking Forward, 2012 to 2020 Key Highlights for Ontario,” which makes predictions for 32 different trades and analyzes different regions in Ontario. It uses data from its labour market information (LMI).

Overall, CSC predicts the construction labour force will rise by 43,000 workers between this year and 2020. In addition, the industry will need to replace 77,000 retiring workers and needs to recruit a total of 120,000 new workers.

“When you look at the Greater Toronto Area and the north right now, conditions are tight and will continue to be tight,” CSC economist Bob Collins said in an interview.

The main driver in the north is the mining industry in the “Ring of Fire” region, CSC says.

There are several trades in which the requirements exceed 75 per cent of the numbers. They include boilermakers, bricklayers, heavy equipment operators, crane operators, electricians, millwrights, plumbers, sheet metal workers, steamfitters, pipefitters and labourers, according to the report.

Starting in 2014, there will be an increase in demand for certain trades due to the public transit projects and the refurbishment of Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington nuclear power plant, Collins said.

According to the CSC report, the “strong requirement” will be concentrated among boilermakers, millwrights, drillers and blasters, electricians, gasfitters, industrial instrument mechanics, plumbers, sheet metal workers, steamfitters and pipefitters.

In the key highlights for Ontario, CSC ranks 32 trades for each year from 2011 until 2020 on a scale of one to five.

Collins said those ranked “one” have a surplus while those ranked “five” have the tightest markets.

“The market often balances out to be a ‘three’, across the province, assuming there is mobility of workers to meet demand in the various regions,” Collins said.

The report analyzes by region: The Greater Toronto Area, Central Ontario and the eastern, southwestern and northern provincial areas.

In addition to nuclear facilities and public transit, the labour market in the GTA will be affected by investment in the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and several large hospital projects, CSC says.

The weakest region is Eastern Ontario, which will lose an estimated 3,000 jobs between 2012 and 2020.