OTTAWA — A new report from the Conference Board of Canada asserts immigration reforms could address labour shortages in the residential construction sector and support Canada reaching its residential construction goals.
The report outlines five recommendations for policy-makers that would improve Canada’s immigration system and address the housing crisis by enabling skilled residential construction workers to enter the country and immediately begin contributing to the sector.
To maximize the impact of immigration policy changes, provinces, regulators and employers need to collaborate to address regional and national challenges, the conference board said.
“Construction of new homes is critical to addressing housing affordability and availability in Canada, but persistent labour shortages is one of the obstacles slowing progress,” said Stefan Fournier, the board’s executive director, in a release. “Allocating a small number of immigration places within the existing Immigration Levels Plan to occupations that are core to residential construction could mitigate labour shortages and advance the building of new homes.”
Canada operates a small Federal Skilled Trade Program, but this program does not address the immigration barriers for people working in the trades, the report said.
“Forty per cent of Canada’s overall labour gap is predicted to hit residential construction in Ontario, further widening the gap between already sparse housing supply and families who want an affordable place to call home,” said Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, a partner in the report. “Immigration could be a key player in reducing labour barriers and getting more homes built. But in order to do so, Canada’s ambitious immigration targets must include measures to attract and secure workers from the residential construction sector.”