Construction: Region of Western Canada and the Territories: 2015-2017

Construction: Region of Western Canada and the Territories: 2015-2017

Sectoral Profiles provide an overview of recent labour market developments and outlooks for key industries, for various regions of the country.

Executive Summary

Construction is a major industry in all western Canadian provinces and territories. The industry accounted for between 7.7% and 15.8% of provincial/territorial GDP in 2015.Footnote 1 Over that year, it employed 563,200 workers across the W-T region;Footnote 2 with industry employment in the region growing significantly more quickly than in the rest of Canada over the last 10 years.Footnote 3 Employment prospects in the region appear to be mixed. Alberta and Saskatchewan will likely lose jobs in the 2015-2017 period. Employment growth will be stronger in Manitoba and the territories but more moderate in British Colombia.

Key Drivers

  • Low commodity pricesFootnote 4 will impede construction in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, where more than half of all construction investments have been in commercial projects.Footnote 5
  • New housing price have been continually growing, reaching record levels in British Columbia notably and prompting residential construction investments.Footnote 6
  • Major institutional and governmental projects have been driving demand for construction in the Territories and Manitoba.Footnote 7

Background

Construction is a major industry in all western and northern jurisdictions. It ranks among the fourth largest sector in all provincial/territorial economies.Footnote 8 The lowest share was in Saskatchewan where construction accounted for 7.7% of the provincial GDP in 2015.Footnote 9 In contrast, the construction sector comprised 15.8% of the Northwest Territories' economy, and in other western and northern jurisdictions, construction accounted for between 8.3% and 14.1%.Footnote 10 In comparison, the construction sector accounts for only 6.7% of Ontario's GDP and 6.5% of Québec's.Footnote 11

The sector has also been experiencing important growth in all western provinces and territories. For example, the share of construction in the total Manitoba GDP has more than doubled between 2005 and 2015.Footnote 12 Similarly, construction has also grown in Alberta and Northwest Territories; +50% and +56% respectively.Footnote 13

Construction's Provincial/Territorial % Share of Employment and GDP, 2005 vs. 2015
Construction's Provincial/Territorial % Share of Employment and GDP, 2005 vs. 2015 - The data table for this figure is located below

Sources: 1. Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 379-0030 - Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), provinces and territories, annual (dollars). 2. Statistics Canada Labour force estimates by detailed industry, age, sex, class of worker.

Show data tableForestry's Provincial/Territorial % Share of Employment and GDP, 2005 vs. 2015

 

% of Total GDP

% of Total Employment

Manitoba

 

 

2015

8.7%

7.2%

2005

5.5%

4.8%

Saskatchewan

 

 

2015

7.4%

9.8%

2005

6.1%

5.5%

Alberta

 

 

2015

10.1%

11.3%

2005

9.5%

9.0%

British Columbia

 

 

2015

8.2%

8.7%

2005

7.6%

7.9%

Territories

 

 

2015

12.5%

8.0%

2005

9.4%

6.9%


The number of workers in the construction sector has also increased over the 2005-2015 period. Overall, 563,200 people in western Canada worked in the construction industry in 2015.Footnote 14,Footnote 15 The bulk of these workers were located in Alberta and British Columbia (82% of the workforce combined), but the most important provincial growth in construction employment in the last decade has come in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (+114% and +63% respectively).Footnote 16

Depending on the province or territory, employment growth in construction is driven by investments in residential construction, non-residential construction or both. Investments in non-residential projects (i.e. industrial, commercial or, institutional and governmental) outpace investments in residential projects in all western and northern jurisdictions.Footnote 17

For example, the Territories, Saskatchewan and Alberta have largely relied on non-residential projects in the last decade, while Manitoba and British Colombia have relied more on residential construction.Footnote 18 Thanks to a number of major industrial projects, non-residential investments in Northwest Territories have been ten times higher.Footnote 19 Over the same period, institutional and governmental investments have grown by a multiple of 9 in North West Territories, reaching $6.1M in 2015.Footnote 20

According to industry data, carpenters, contractors, electricians and labourers are generally the most prevalent construction trades and occupations in all Western provinces.Footnote 21 Together they account for about 50% of all construction employment in the western provinces.Footnote 22

Employment Outlook

Manitoba has experienced important growth in non-residential construction in the last decade.Footnote 23 Investments have almost doubled over that period (+96%).Footnote 24 Service Canada forecasts 7,400 job openings across all trades and occupations in the construction sector in Manitoba over 2015-2017. According to BuildForce Canada, traditionally large trades and occupations (e.g., carpenters, electricians, plumbers) will continue to grow in Manitoba.Footnote 25

Saskatchewan's construction sector has stagnated over the last few years. Investments in non-residential projects have not increased in the last three years and investments in residential projects have decreased.Footnote 26 Service Canada forecasts a decrease of 5,000 workers in the construction sector across the province over 2015-2017. According to BuildForce Canada large job losses are expected between 2015 and 2025.Footnote 27 However, a substantial number of retirements and new projects might lead to a high demand for some occupations from 2018 to 2020.Footnote 28

Commodity prices have hit Alberta's economy and its construction industry. While the province continues to lead the nation in terms of construction investments and employment, investments have dipped in 2009 and 2010 and are still fluctuating.Footnote 29 Service Canada forecasts a decrease of 10,500 workers in the construction sector across the province over the 2015-2017 period. According to BuildForce Canada, there is currently an oversupply of construction workers in Alberta with the labour market not stabilizing itself before 2020-2021.Footnote 30 However, BuildForce Canada estimates that employment in trades and occupations related to residential constructions (e.g. plumbers, painters and decorators, roofers, and electricians) could grow and that the labour market will remain stable for these occupations.Footnote 31

The extremely high value of homes in British Columbia continues to drive investments in residential construction. Investments grew steadily at an average yearly rate of 2% over the last 10 years.Footnote 32 Service Canada forecasts a growth of 7,800 workers in the construction sector over 2015-2017. According to industry associations, 15,000 jobs will remain unfulfilled by 2024 in the province.Footnote 33 BuildForce Canada estimates that labour market conditions will remain stable over the next decade.Footnote 34

Construction in the Territories depends largely on institutional and governmental investments.Footnote 35 In Northwest Territories non-residential investments outpace residential investments by a factor of ten.Footnote 36 Over the 2015-2017 period, Service Canada forecasts growth of 460 construction workers across the territories: 40 in Yukon, 320 in Northwest Territories and 100 in Nunavut. However, the industry suggests that 3,400 skilled workers would be needed to fill jobs associated with almost a dozen major present or future projects.Footnote 37 Projects include the announcement from governments of Canada and Northwest Territories of $80.9 million in funding for highway infrastructures.Footnote 38 In Nunavut, Canada and Nunavut will invest in key infrastructure priorities such as repairing and upgrading existing water treatment facilities.Footnote 39

Projected employment change for the construction sector during the 2015-2017 forecast period

Economic Region

Projected Change in Employment

Projected Annual Growth

Manitoba

7,400

5.8%

Southern Manitoba

 

6.3%

Winnipeg

 

5.7%

Northern Manitoba

 

5.1%

Saskatchewan

-5,000

-3.0%

Regina & Southern Saskatchewan

 

-2.9%

Saskatoon & Northern Saskatchewan

 

-3.2%

Alberta

-10,500

-1.4%

Calgary & Southern Alberta

 

-2.0%

Edmonton, Red Deer, Camrose, & Drumheller

 

-0.9%

Northern Alberta and Banff

 

-1.3%

British Columbia

7,800

1.3%

Vancouver Island & Coast

 

1.2%

Lower Mainland - Southwest

 

1.3%

Okanagan - Kootenay

 

1.4%

Northern BC

 

1.0%

Yukon

40

4.4%

Northwest Territories

320

5.3%

Nunavut

100

0.8%

Source: Service Canada Regional Occupational Outlooks in Canada, 2015-2017

Regional Overview

There were 45,600 construction workers employed in Manitoba in 2015 and an additional 3,300 unemployed construction workers.Footnote 40 As elsewhere in the country, construction workers work longer hours than the average and generally work full-time.Footnote 41 Given its geographic specificity, Manitoba's construction workers are more likely than elsewhere in western Canada to only work seasonally.Footnote 42 Construction wages in Manitoba have been growing in the last years.Footnote 43 Average hourly wages sat at $25.21 in 2015 compared to $18.23 in 2005.Footnote 44 As a result, a construction worker in Manitoba earned 1.05 times the average provincial wages in 2015.Footnote 45

Distribution of employment in the construction sector across Western Canada (%) Construction employment distribution - The data table for this figure is located below Source: Service Canada Regional Occupational Outlooks in Canada, 2015-2017
Show data tableDistribution of employment in the construction sector across Western Canada (%)

Economic Region

Percent (%)

Southern Manitoba

2.5

Winnipeg

3.8

Northern Manitoba

1.3

Regina & Southern Saskatchewan

4.8

Saskatoon & Northern Saskatchewan

5.3

Calgary & Southern Alberta

18.0

Edmonton, Red Deer, Camrose and Drumheller

21.2

Northern Alberta & Banff

5.9

Vancouver Island and Coast

5.3

Lower Mainland - Southwest

22.5

Okanagan - Kootenay

5.3

Northern BC

3.1

Yukon

0.2

Northwest Territories

0.4

Nunavut

0.4

Saskatchewan has experienced the highest rate of growth in construction workers over the last ten years in western Canada.Footnote 46 The number of construction workers more than doubled (+114%) over that period.Footnote 47 As of 2015, there were 56,200 construction workers in Saskatchewan.Footnote 48 However, the province also had the highest unemployment rate for construction workers among all western provinces (8.5% in 2015).Footnote 49 Union participation are low among construction workers in SaskatchewanFootnote 50 and wages have been historically lower than the province's average worker's wages, but over the last two years construction wages have been increasing.Footnote 51

Almost half of all construction workers in western Canada worked in Alberta.Footnote 52 In 2015, this represented 259,900 workers.Footnote 53 While mostly located in Edmonton and Calgary, 12% of employment in Red Deer and Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake is in construction.Footnote 54 Consistent with Alberta's focus on non-residential construction, the province's workers are the least likely to be self-employed among all western provinces.Footnote 55 Economic growth in the province has led to very high wages in the construction sector.Footnote 56 Construction workers in Alberta earned up to 10% more than the average worker in the province over the last ten years.Footnote 57

In 2015, British Columbia recorded the lowest unemployment rate among all provinces for construction workers (5.7%).Footnote 58 Except for 2009 and 2010, labour market conditions for construction workers in B.C. have been very stable. Labour market stability and a large residential sector have been contributing factors in B.C.'s record level of self-employed construction workers. In 2015, 68,200 construction workers were self-employed; representing above a third of the construction workforce.Footnote 59 Stable conditions are also attracting displaced workers from other regions such as laid off oil and gas workers from Alberta. Industry sources suggest that 45% of B.C. construction employers hired at least one worker that came directly from working in Alberta's oil and gas sector.Footnote 60

In 2015, 4,296 workers were employed in the construction industry in the Territories.Footnote 61 More than half of them were employed in Northwest Territories and more than a quarter in Yukon.Footnote 62 While there are no reliable data on labour market conditions, data suggest that employment levels have been stable in North West Territories over the last ten years (+13%) and have increased significantly in Yukon (+29%) and in Nunavut (+61%).Footnote 63

Note

In preparing this document, the authors have taken care to provide clients with labour market information that is timely and accurate at the time of publication. Since labour market conditions are dynamic, some of the information presented here may have changed since this document was published. Users are encouraged to also refer to other sources for additional information on the local economy and labour market. Information contained in this document does not necessarily reflect official policies of Employment and Social Development Canada.

Prepared by: Labour Market Information (LMI) Division, Service Canada, Region of Western Canada and the Territories
For further information, please contact the LMI team

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Statistics Canada. Table 379-0028 - Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), provinces and territories, annual (percentage share), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Employment numbers for the construction sector in the territories were not available within a single consistent source.

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0008 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0017 - Investment in new housing construction, by type of dwellings, Canada, provinces and territories, monthly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

U.S. Energy Information Administration. Petroleum & Other Liquids. Spot Prices.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0017 - Investment in new housing construction, by type of dwellings, Canada, provinces and territories, monthly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

Statistics Canada. Table 327-0046 - New housing price index, monthly (index, 2007=100), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 17, 2016)

Return to footnote 6 referrer

Footnote 7

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

Statistics Canada. Table 379-0028 - Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), provinces and territories, annual (percentage share), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 8 referrer

Footnote 9

Ibid

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Footnote 10

Ibid

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Footnote 11

Ibid

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Footnote 12

Ibid

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Footnote 13

Ibid

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Footnote 14

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0008 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 14 referrer

Footnote 15

Employment numbers for the construction sector in the territories was not available within a single consistent source.

Return to footnote 15 referrer

Footnote 16

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0008 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 16 referrer

Footnote 17

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0017 - Investment in new housing construction, by type of dwellings, Canada, provinces and territories, monthly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 17 referrer

Footnote 18

Ibid

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Footnote 19

Ibid

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Footnote 20

Ibid

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Footnote 21

BuildForce Canada. Forecast Data. Employment: Construction Industry by Province. (accessed: August 31, 2016)

Return to footnote 21 referrer

Footnote 22

Ibid

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Footnote 23

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 23 referrer

Footnote 24

Ibid

Return to footnote 24 referrer

Footnote 25

BuildForce Canada. Forecast Data. Employment: Construction Industry by Province. (accessed: August 31, 2016)

Return to footnote 25 referrer

Footnote 26

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0017 - Investment in new housing construction, by type of dwellings, Canada, provinces and territories, monthly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 26 referrer

Footnote 27

Ibid

Return to footnote 27 referrer

Footnote 28

BuildForce Canada. 2016 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward: Saskatchewan. Tables 1 and 2.

Return to footnote 28 referrer

Footnote 29

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 29 referrer

Footnote 30

BuildForce Canada. 2016 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward: Alberta. Tables 1 and 2.

Return to footnote 30 referrer

Footnote 31

BuildForce Canada. 2016 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward: Alberta. Tables 1 and 2.

BuildForce Canada. Forecast Data. Employment: Construction Industry by Province. (accessed: August 31, 2016)

Return to footnote 31 referrer

Footnote 32

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0017 - Investment in new housing construction, by type of dwellings, Canada, provinces and territories, monthly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 32 referrer

Footnote 33

British Columbia Construction Association:

Return to footnote 33 referrer

Footnote 34

BuildForce Canada. 2016 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward: British Columbia. Tables 1 and 2.

Return to footnote 34 referrer

Footnote 35

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 35 referrer

Footnote 36

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0016 - Investment in non-residential building construction, by type of building, province and census metropolitan area (CMA), quarterly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Statistics Canada. Table 026-0017 - Investment in new housing construction, by type of dwellings, Canada, provinces and territories, monthly (dollars), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 36 referrer

Footnote 37

NWT & Nunavut Construction Association

Return to footnote 37 referrer

Footnote 38

Infrastructure Canada. Infrastructure Canada Projects and Programs (since 2002) - Northwest Territories.

Return to footnote 38 referrer

Footnote 39

Infrastructure Canada. Infrastructure Canada Projects and Programs (since 2002) - Nunavut.

Return to footnote 39 referrer

Footnote 40

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0008 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 40 referrer

Footnote 41

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0020 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by usual hours worked, class of worker, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and sex, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 41 referrer

Footnote 42

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0080 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employees by job permanency, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 42 referrer

Footnote 43

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0072 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), wages of employees by type of work, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (current dollars unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 43 referrer

Footnote 44

Ibid

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Footnote 45

Ibid

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Footnote 46

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0008 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 46 referrer

Footnote 47

Ibid

Return to footnote 47 referrer

Footnote 48

Ibid

Return to footnote 48 referrer

Footnote 49

Ibid

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Footnote 50

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0078 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employees by union coverage, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 50 referrer

Footnote 51

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0072 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), wages of employees by type of work, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (current dollars unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 51 referrer

Footnote 52

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0008 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 52 referrer

Footnote 53

Ibid

Return to footnote 53 referrer

Footnote 54

Ibid

Return to footnote 54 referrer

Footnote 55

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0012 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employment by class of worker, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and sex, annual (persons), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 55 referrer

Footnote 56

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0072 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), wages of employees by type of work, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (current dollars unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 56 referrer

Footnote 57

Ibid

Return to footnote 57 referrer

Footnote 58

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0008 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), sex and age group, annual (persons unless otherwise noted), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 58 referrer

Footnote 59

Statistics Canada. Table 282-0012 - Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employment by class of worker, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and sex, annual (persons), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 8, 2016)

Return to footnote 59 referrer

Footnote 60

British Columbia Construction Association

Return to footnote 60 referrer

Footnote 61

Statistics Canada. Table 281-0024 - Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), employment by type of employee and detailed North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), annual (persons), CANSIM (database). (accessed: August 16, 2016)

Return to footnote 61 referrer

Footnote 62

Ibid

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Footnote 63

Ibid

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