Labour Market Bulletin - Ontario: 2018 Annual Edition

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This Labour Market Bulletin provides an analysis of Labour Force Survey results for the province of Ontario, including the regions of Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula, Kingston-Pembroke, Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie, London, Muskoka-Kawarthas, Northeast, Northwest, Ottawa, Stratford-Bruce Peninsula, Toronto and Windsor-Sarnia.


Labour Force Trends - Ontario saw sizeable employment gains in 2018

  • Employment increased in Ontario by 1.6% in 2018

  • All of the job gains were in full-time work

  • The unemployment rate fell for the fifth consecutive year in the province to 5.6% in 2018

  • The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 declined to 11.9% in 2018

  • Labour market conditions should remain stable in Ontario in 2019

For the ninth year in a row employment increased in Ontario. Employment rose by 114,400 in the province led solely by gains in full-time work (+130,300). Part-time employment fell by 15,900 in 2018 after peaking in the previous year. The unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6%. This is the first time that the unemployment rate sat below the six-percentage mark since 2001. The participation rate continued to edge lower and stood at 64.5% in 2018.

The job market seemed to pick up for youth aged 15 to 24 in Ontario. The youth unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 11.9% in 2018. The number of youth employed in the province increased by 5,700 in 2018. Job gains in full-time work (+15,000) more than offset losses in part-time employment (-9,200). Meanwhile, the youth participation rate dipped to 60.2% in 2018, as a smaller share of youth entered the labour force.

Labour market conditions in Ontario should remain positive overall in 2019. Analysts' project that Ontario's economy will grow by about 1.9% in 2019, signalling a small drop from the previous year.1 Employment will ease slightly in 2019 with growth expected to range from 1.0% to 1.6% based on industry forecasts.2 Ontario's unemployment rate will likely stay low with some estimates close to 5.5% for the upcoming year.3 Industry reports suggest ongoing tightness in the labour market, which could translate into wage growth. The province should benefit from stronger levels of non-residential construction, gains in business investment needed to increase capacity, and reduced trade uncertainty with the proposed Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. Conversely, some of the key headwinds that may affect Ontario's economy are reduced household spending and a crunch in housing affordability.

Employment increased by 241,100 in Canada in 2018. All provinces experienced positive or marginal employment growth between 2017 and 2018 with the largest increases in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec. Similar to Ontario, all of the employment gains at the national level came from full-time work. The unemployment rate fell for the second year in a row to 5.8% in Canada in 2018. Looking ahead, forecasts suggest that Canada's economy will grow by about 1.8% and the national unemployment rate will hover around 5.7% in 2019.4

The job climate in the United States remained robust in 2018. Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by about 2.6 million in 2018, up from 2.2 million in the previous year.5 The share of the population employed in the United States labour force increased to 60.4% in 2018.6 This figure has steadily risen since 2014. The unemployment rate declined further to 3.9% in 2018, which is the lowest figure seen since 1969.7 Going forward, the United States economy should perform well, though conditions may moderate slightly from 2018. Forecasts predict that the American economy will grow by about 2.3% in 2019 and that the unemployment rate will stay below 4.0%.8 Steady levels of consumer consumption and an upbeat manufacturing outlook in the United States should continue to provide a lift to Ontario businesses.9

In 2018, the total population aged 15 years and over in Ontario was 11.9 million. The Indigenous population living off reserve accounted for 2.1% of that, or 254,900 people. Employment among Indigenous people living off reserve in Ontario was 144,000, an increase of 9,000 from 2017. The increase was due to gains in full-time employment (+10,100), which outpaced a decline in part-time employment (-1,200). In 2018, the unemployment rate among the off-reserve Indigenous population was 7.8%, a significant decrease of 2.6 percentage points from a year earlier. That same rate slightly decreased by 0.3 percentage points for the non-Indigenous population, standing at 5.6%. In 2018, the participation rate of Indigenous people living off reserve was unchanged from 2017 at 61.3%. The participation rate among the non-Indigenous population dropped to 64.5%. The employment rate for Indigenous people living off reserve increased from 2017, standing at 56.5%. This rate was 60.9% for the non-Indigenous population in Ontario.

Annual Labour Force Statistics, for Ontario
Seasonally unadjusted data Year 2017 to 2018 2016 to 2017
2018 2017 2016 Number % Number %
Population 15 + ('000) 11,897.6 11,684.8 11,523.4 212.8 1.8 161.4 1.4
Labour Force ('000) 7,673.0 7,579.8 7,489.5 93.2 1.2 90.3 1.2
Employment ('000) 7,242.4 7,128.0 6,999.6 114.4 1.6 128.4 1.8
Full-Time ('000) 5,909.0 5,778.7 5,672.6 130.3 2.3 106.1 1.9
Part-Time ('000) 1,333.4 1,349.3 1,327.0 -15.9 -1.2 22.3 1.7
Unemployment ('000) 430.7 451.8 489.9 -21.1 -4.7 -38.1 -7.8
Unemployment Rate (%) 5.6 6.0 6.5 -0.4 - -0.5 -
Participation Rate (%) 64.5 64.9 65.0 -0.4 - -0.1 -
Employment Rate (%) 60.9 61.0 60.7 -0.1 - 0.3 -
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey - Table 14-10-0018-01

Annual Employment and Unemployment Rate, for Ontario
Annual Employment and Unemployment Rate, for Ontario. The data table for this graph is located below

Show data table
Ontario Annual Employment and Unemployment Rate    
  Unemployment Rate (%) Employment ('000)
2013 7.6 6702.6
2014 7.3 6823.4
2015 6.8 6877.9
2016 6.5 6923.2
2017 6 6999.6
2018 5.6 7128


Annual Employment Growth, for Ontario
Annual Employment Growth, for Ontario. The data table for this graph is located below

Show data table
Ontario Annual Employment Growth    
  Ontario Canada
2013 1.8% 1.5%
2014 0.8% 0.6%
2015 0.7% 0.8%
2016 1.1% 0.7%
2017 1.8% 1.9%
2018 1.6% 1.3%

Annual Unemployment Rates, by Gender and Age, for Ontario
Seasonally Adjusted Data 2018 2017 2016 2017 to 2018 2016 to 20176
% % % (% points) (% points)
Total 5.6 6.0 6.5 -0.4 -0.5
25 years and over 4.6 4.9 5.3 -0.3 -0.4
Men - 25 years and over 4.9 4.9 5.2 0.0 -0.3
Women - 25 years and over 4.9 4.9 5.3 0.0 -0.4
15 to 24 years 11.9 12.3 14.0 -0.4 -1.7
Men - 15 to 24 years 12.8 13.7 15.5 -0.9 -1.8
Women - 15 to 24 years 11.0 10.8 12.5 0.2 -1.7
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey - Table 14-10-0018-01  

Ontario - Labour Market Indicators for Indigenous People
Annual averages
Seasonally unadjusted data
Indigenous Yearly variation
Non-Indigenous Yearly variation
2018 2017 number % 2018 2017 number %
Population 15 + ('000) 254.9 246.0 8.9 3.6% 11,642.7 11,438.9 203.8 1.8%
Labour Force ('000) 156.2 150.7 5.5 3.6% 7,513.9 7,426.5 87.4 1.2%
Employment ('000) 144.0 135.0 9.0 6.7% 7,095.4 6,989.5 105.9 1.5%
Full-Time ('000) 112.2 102.1 10.1 9.9% 5,794.2 5,673.6 120.6 2.1%
Part-Time ('000) 31.8 33.0 -1.2 -3.6% 1,301.2 1,315.8 -14.6 -1.1%
Unemployment ('000) 12.2 15.7 -3.5 -22.3% 418.6 437.1 -18.5 -4.2%
Unemployment Rate (%) 7.8 10.4 -2.6 - 5.6 5.9 -0.3 -
Participation Rate (%) 61.3 61.3 0.0 - 64.5 64.9 -0.4 -
Employment Rate (%) 56.5 54.9 1.6 - 60.9 61.1 -0.2 -
Notes: The Labour Force Survey excludes those living on-reserve.
Estimates are based on annual averages.
Totals may not add due to rounding.
Totals may be different from other tables due to adjustments done to indigenous statistics in the Labour Force Survey.
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey - ESDC custom table.


Construction and utilities led employment growth in Ontario's goods-producing sector in 2018

The Ontario goods-producing sector experienced a net gain of 20,500 in 2018, with the sector gaining employment for the fourth consecutive year. The increase was most noticeable in construction (+12,600) and utilities (+9,500) over the year. The province's agriculture industry also saw small gains (+500). In contrast, employment fell over the year in manufacturing (-1,700) and in forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (-300).

The Ontario construction industry added to its workforce (+12,600) for the ninth consecutive year, as it employed 525,100 people in 2018. Construction activity is being propelled with significant investments in infrastructure projects. Total investment in non-residential building construction expanded by 1.4% from 2017 to 2018 in Ontario,10 as several major infrastructure projects are expected to last a number of years. The Government of Ontario is investing more than $182M to modernize nine Ontario Provincial Police facilities, as Bird Construction Inc. began construction in the fall with substantial completion expected by late 2020.11 The Government of Canada will spend $88.6M to build and repair police stations in First Nation and Inuit communities over seven years.12 The City of Toronto also announced that it would invest $720M on over 200 infrastructure projects in 2018.13 Noteworthy in the commercial sector, Wal-Mart Canada Corp. will invest $175M to renovate 23 stores across Canada, creating more than 2,500 construction jobs.14

Residential building permits15 and housing starts16 softened in the province over 2018, particularly in the single detached market. Though residential construction may ease further in the near term, building activity may still be quite active in some of the larger urban centres and in the renovation market. Tighter mortgage regulations,17 tax measures in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area,18 and rising interest rates may stretch affordability for some buyers. Over the last year, housing sales and average home prices dipped in the Greater Toronto Area.19

The provincial utilities industry posted a gain of 9,500 jobs in 2018 with two of the largest infrastructure projects in Ontario's history boosting the industry. Refurbishment work is underway on four nuclear reactors at the Ontario Power Generation Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Clarington at a cost of $12.8B. Significant refurbishment activities will start at the Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station in Tiverton in 2020 with a projected cost of $13B. Bruce Power has signed a $475M contract with Shoreline Power Group to begin work on its Major Component Replacement Project that will create and sustain an average of 825 jobs annually over the next 15 years.20 The province is also modernizing its utilities infrastructure. Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. and Hydrogenics Corporation opened the Markham Energy Storage Facility in 2018, which became North America's first major power-to-gas energy storage facility.21 In addition, PUC Services Inc. in partnership with Fluence Energy, LLC and Ontario Storage LLC, will construct an energy storage facility in Sault Ste. Marie, which is expected to be the largest of its kind in Canada.22 The renewable energy market underwent a mixed year in Ontario. While projects such as the North Kent Wind project in Chatham-Kent were completed,23 the cancellation of 758 renewable energy contracts in September24 may temper the overall outlook.

The large nuclear refurbishment projects have created supply chain spinoffs at equipment and component manufacturers, and engineering firms in Ontario. Cambridge-based BWXT Canada Ltd. has been awarded a $642M contract to design and supply 32 steam generators for Bruce Power.25 Cameco Fuel Manufacturing announced a $62M contract to manufacture nuclear reactor components for Bruce Power's Major Component Replacement Project.26 In addition, SNC-Lavalin and Eclipse Automation Inc. secured a $33M production-tooling contract to support the fuel channel and feeder replacement project at Bruce Power with manufacturing to take place in Mississauga and Cambridge.27 ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. also opened a high-tech testing facility in Cambridge, creating 60 jobs.28

In contrast to the large growth seen in the construction and utilities industries, the Ontario manufacturing industry endured a slight decrease of 1,700 jobs over 2018. This decline followed two years of expansion in the industry. Ontario manufacturing sales have grown for the last two years, increasing by 3.4% in 2018,29 and the total value of exports from Ontario rose by 1.4%.30 International trade was at the forefront throughout the year. Some of the key topics included the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and subsequent proposal of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), and tariffs on imported steel and aluminum goods between Canada and the United States.

Ontario is home to all of Canada's automotive assembly plants, and employed about 83.1%31 of the Canadian automotive32 manufacturing workforce. The industry was dealt a blow in November 2018 when General Motors of Canada Limited (GM Canada) announced that it would close its Oshawa Assembly Plant over the course of 2019, resulting in the layoff of about 2,900 employees.33 GM Canada stated that the closure stemmed from a company-wide transition to autonomous and electric vehicles. The impending closure will likely ripple throughout the supply chain as automotive production is highly integrated in the provincial economy. The industry did see some positive news as Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. announced a $1.4B investment to upgrade its Cambridge and Woodstock assembly plants. The investment will create 450 jobs, 1,000 co-op placements, and retain 8,000 positions.34

Transportation and warehousing helped propel growth in the services-producing sector

Employment in the services-producing sector continued to grow in Ontario, increasing by 93,800 in 2018. The provincial transportation and warehousing industry had the largest gains (+37,700) followed by educational services (+24,100) and other services (+14,500) such as repair and maintenace. There were two industries that posted employment losses in 2018, which were health care and social assistance (-17,900), and public administration (-6,300).

The Ontario transportation and warehousing industry added to its workforce for the third consecutive year. There were a number of job creation announcements, particularly in the courier and parcel delivery business. A greater share of total retail trade sales continue to move to e-commerce purchases,35 necessitating the need for a greater number of parcel deliveries. To meet this growing demand, UPS Canada Ltd. announced that it would invest more than $500M towards expanding facilities and improving technologies, creating 1,000 jobs across Canada.36 The company also opened a 40,000-sq.-ft. facility in Kanata.37 In addition, Federal Express Canada Corporation announced that it would open a 29,000-sq.-ft. distribution centre in Kirkland Lake.38 The transportation industry experienced some losses during the year. Greyhound Canada discontinued all services west of Sudbury at the end of October, resulting in about 415 layoffs across Canada.39 OC Transpo laid off 345 employees in December as the transit service provider transitions further to its light rail transit project in Ottawa.40

The information, culture and recreation industry expanded with an employment gain of 5,200 in 2018. Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Ottawa are key hubs for information technology and data processing. A large number of technology-related jobs are being created as a wide range of companies aim to increase its technology base. Several large corporations and start-ups continue to incubate within the province. Microsoft Canada Inc. announced that it would open its new Canadian headquarters in Toronto in 2020.41 Solink Corp., a developer of surveillance technology, expects to expand operations in Ottawa and increase staffing.42 Bonfire Interactive Ltd. also continues to expand its software operations in Kitchener.43

The Ontario trade industry added 5,300 to its workforce in 2018, and total retail merchandise sales rose by 3.8%.44 The retail trade industry continues to evolve resulting in restructuring efforts by companies. These shifts may help boost productivity as retailers seek out more efficient supply management and supply chain integration practices. In 2018, Nordstrom, Inc. expanded its presence in Ontario opening a 35,000-sq.-ft. Nordstrom Rack location in Ottawa.45 MINISO, a Japanese lifestyle brand and Chinese variety retailer, opened a number of locations across the Greater Toronto Area.46 In addition, the legalization of cannabis has introduced some retail opportunities, as the province held its first lottery for 25 cannabis retail licenses in January 2019.47 Despite this, a number of retailers exited the Ontario market due to poorer financial viability and intense competition. Nine West announced that it would close all of its Canadian stores48 and Jean Machine Clothing Inc. announced that it would close all of its locations by February 2019 and continue with e-commerce operations only.49 Analysts expect that consumer spending may be more modest into 2019 given current patterns and household debt levels.50

Annual Labour Force Statistics, by Industry, for Ontario
Employment ('000) Year 2017 to 2018 2016 to 2017
2018 2017 2016 Number % Number %
Total employed, all industries 7,242.40 7,128.00 6,999.60 114.4 1.6 128.4 1.8
Goods-producing sector 1,453.10 1,432.60 1,418.10 20.5 1.4 14.5 1.0
Agriculture 69 68.5 77.7 0.5 0.7 -9.2 -11.8
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas 34.8 35.1 35.8 -0.3 -0.9 -0.7 -2.0
Utilities 56.6 47.2 49.5 9.4 19.9 -2.3 -4.6
Construction 525.1 512.5 503.7 12.6 2.5 8.8 1.7
Manufacturing 767.6 769.3 751.4 -1.7 -0.2 17.9 2.4
Services-producing sector 5,789.20 5,695.40 5,581.40 93.8 1.6 114.0 2.0
Trade 1,074.20 1,068.90 1,033.20 5.3 0.5 35.7 3.5
Transportation and warehousing 379.1 341.4 327.2 37.7 11.0 14.2 4.3
Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing 563.9 560.5 555.3 3.4 0.6 5.2 0.9
Professional, scientific and technical services 637.8 629 594.6 8.8 1.4 34.4 5.8
Business, building and other support services 319.7 314.7 326.1 5.0 1.6 -11.4 -3.5
Educational services 521.2 497.1 502.8 24.1 4.8 -5.7 -1.1
Health care and social assistance 851.6 869.5 838.4 -17.9 -2.1 31.1 3.7
Information, culture and recreation 318.1 312.9 318 5.2 1.7 -5.1 -1.6
Accommodation and food services 468.2 454.3 456.8 13.9 3.1 -2.5 -0.5
Other services 290.4 275.9 276.1 14.5 5.3 -0.2 -0.1
Public administration 365 371.2 353 -6.2 -1.7 18.2 5.2
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey -Table 14-10-0023-01


Employment gains posted in nine of the eleven economic regions in Ontario in 2018

The Toronto economic region continued its employment growth momentum leading the province with job gains of 78,700 in 2018. Gains were driven entirely by full-time employment (+89,000). The unemployment rate fell from 6.4% in 2017 to 6.1% in 2018. From an industrial perspective, both the goods-producing sector and the services-producing sector saw gains over the year. Employment in the goods-producing sector was largely bolstered by activities in construction and tempered by losses in manufacturing. The service-producing sector benefited from activities in transportation and warehousing, educational services, and accommodation and food services.

The construction industry registered employment gains of 20,700 over the year.51 There are several large-scale capital projects underway in the region including the Finch West Light Rail Transit project,52 Highway 427 expansion,53 and the Toronto Port Lands flood protection project.54 Manufacturing employment softened in the region over the past year as manufacturers such as Nestlé Canada Inc. (Purina PetCare),55 Campbell Company of Canada,56 and Maple Leaf Foods Inc. all announced closures.57 Meanwhile, Sanofi Pasteur Limited announced that it would invest $500M in a vaccine manufacturing facility58 and the Government of Canada announced that it would invest up to $230M in the Ontario-based Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster,59 which should help boost the local industry. The City of Toronto has a deep technology cluster and a myriad of investment announcements are creating hundreds of job opportunities in the region. Several companies, including those outside of professional, scientific and technical services, are building its technology base., Inc. (Amazon)60 and Accenture61 opened offices in Toronto, while Microsoft Canada Inc.62 and Shopify Inc.63 each announced major investments in the region by 2022. Think Research Corporation64 and Uber's Advanced Technologies Group65 are also expanding operations in Toronto. As the technology industry keeps growing, the office leasing market may become even tighter, bringing office vacancy rates lower.66 The retail landscape continues to evolve as new global retailers establish footing in the region. In 2018, Toronto welcomed a number of international brands including Ermenegildo Zegna,67 Fjällräven,68 and Laline.69 There were also major expansions at Toronto Premium Outlets70 and Mississauga's Square One Shopping Centre71 in 2018, enhancing the in-person retail experience. At the same time, a number of long-standing retailers such as Lowe's Companies Inc.,72 Bowring Brothers and Bombay Company,73 and DSW Inc.74 >announced store closures nationwide. The transportation and warehousing industry saw positive conditions in the region over the past year, thanks in part to growth in e-commerce. Wayfair Inc. established a warehouse and delivery facility in Mississauga75 and Amazon expanded its warehousing and fulfilment centres in Caledon and Brampton.76

Labour market conditions in the Hamilton‒Niagara Peninsula economic region remained relatively unchanged in 2018. Employment grew by 0.2%, driven by gains in part-time positions. The unemployment rate remained relatively steady at 5.4%. A number of construction projects are moving forward in the region including Dover Wharf Condominiums in Port Dover77 and the Niagara Regional Police detachment in St. Catharines.78 Stronger economic growth has spurred higher shipping activity in the region as well. The volume of cargo handled at the Port of Hamilton increased to more than 11.6M metric tonnes in 2018, an 18% increase over 2017.79 The Port of Hamilton will further benefit from the $35.45M Westport Modernization Project to help improve marine, rail, and road infrastructure and increase the port's storage capacity.80 Higher steel prices helped mitigate the costs of American steel tariffs, leading to stronger revenues for Hamilton-based Stelco Holdings Inc.81 The steel manufacturer also expanded operations in higher-quality products particularly for the automotive industry.82 National Steel Car Limited announced plans to hire workers to fulfill orders for lumber83 and grain hoppers cars84 from CN Rail. Cannabis manufacturing is growing as a number of manufacturers have established and expanded cannabis production facilities in the region including CannTrust Holdings Inc., Green Relief Inc., and Radical Medical Marijuana Inc.

Kitchener‒Waterloo‒Barrie by 2,700 in 2018, led primarily by gains in part-time employment. While the participation rate dipped to 67.3% in 2018, Kitchener‒Waterloo‒Barrie continued to have the highest participation rate in Ontario. The unemployment rate was down by 0.4 percentage points to 4.7%. This was the second lowest unemployment rate reported among all of the economic regions in Ontario in 2018. Employment gains in the region took place in both the goods and services producing sectors. Manufacturing employment increased and should remain strong with news of expansions at Decast Ltd. in Essa Township,85 Armour Alloys Stainless & Aluminum in Cambridge,86 and Georgian Bay Biomed in Collingwood.87 However, news of 256 layoffs at the Kraus Group of Companies' carpet manufacturing plant in Waterloo may temper some of this growth.88 Construction activity will be supported over the next few years by a number of large projects including a 76-unit condominium building (Matchedash Lofts) in Orillia,89 a 33-storey condominium building by IN8 Development in Kitchener,90 and an industrial park in Cambridge.91 The region's technology cluster saw companies expand into the area and invest in educational institutions in 2018 as well. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced that it would invest $2.28M in Bioenterprise Corporation92 and up to $5.5M in the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo region.93

Stronger economic conditions led to an employment increase of 6,000 in the London economic region in 2018, driven solely by gains in full-time employment. The region's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.6% and the participation rate inched up 0.1 percentage point to 62.0%. News in the manufacturing industry has been mixed. Food manufacturing did well with Dr. Oetker Canada Ltd. adding 100 additional workers,94 Nestlé Canada Inc. making a $51.5M investment to expand production at its London ice cream plant,95 and Jakeman's Maple Products building a production facility in Sweaburg.96 Maple Leaf Foods Inc. will also consolidate operations from Toronto, Brampton, and St. Marys into a new $660M plant in London that will employ 1,450 workers at the onset of production.97 The legalization of cannabis has boosted manufacturing employment in this region too. A number of companies have set up processing facilities and some have already expanded operations, employing hundreds of workers across various stages of production. However, there were multiple layoff announcements in the region in 2018. Canada Bread Company Limited closed its Woodstock plant and eliminated 70 positions,98 General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada99 and Diply100 announced layoffs, Firestone Textiles Company shut its factory in Woodstock,101 and ZF-TRW ceased production at its Tillsonburg automotive parts plant.102 Doug Coleman Trucking also shuttered its trucking depot in Ingersoll, affecting 57 workers.103 Looking ahead, Diamond Aircraft Industries plans to add to its workforce over the next few years,104 and Starlim North America Corporation plans to hire up to 120 workers over the next five years.105 Ryder System, Inc. will open a Logistics Operating Center in London with approximately 55 employees and 210 drivers based out of the facility as well.106

Employment improved in the Windsor-Sarnia economic region in 2018 by 3,100. The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in 2018. Gains were seen in the manufacturing and construction industries in 2018, and the labour market should see a boost from the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge linking Windsor and Detroit.107 The City of Windsor approved a $39M project to build 150 affordable housing units in the City's east end. 108 Choice Hotels broke ground on a Quality Inn & Suites hotel in the Town of Amherstburg that is expected to open by 2020.109 Expansions from automotive parts firms Kauth110 and APAG Elektronik Corp.111 will also provide a boost in the region. Aphria Inc. announced that it would invest $55M to build a cannabis extraction facility in Leamington, which will create 50 jobs.112 Contributing to employment losses in the region were Freedom Mobile shuttering its call centre in Windsor113 and BioAmber Inc. closing its Sarnia plant.114

Employment increased by 14,400 in the Ottawa economic region over the year, as most industries posted employment gains or remained relatively unchanged. Investments in affordable housing115 and construction of a $1.5B mixed-use community complex known as Zibi, will further contribute to job creation in the region.116 Construction also started on, Inc.'s distribution centre in Ottawa, creating up to 1,500 jobs over the course of construction117 and 1,000 jobs once open.118 The manufacturing industry received mixed news. Equispheres Inc. received a $5M investment from Lockheed Martin Canada to expand its metal powders operations, which will allow the company to increase its workforce of 20 to more than 200 over the next five years.119 Air Liquide Canada opened a $30M carbon dioxide recovery plant in Johnstown,120 and Ranovus Inc.121 and Seven Leaf122 are expanding operations. Meanwhile, Magna International Inc. announced that it would close its Perth plant in 2019, affecting 380 jobs. 123

Employment grew by 6,800 in the Stratford-Bruce Peninsula economic region in 2018 and the unemployment rate fell from 4.5% to 3.7%, the lowest in Ontario. The regional participation rate increased by 2.0 percentage points to 65.2% as more people entered the workforce. The provincial government invested in a new community hub in Stratford124 and in a number of manufacturers in the Huron-Bruce area over the year.125 Bruce Power's long-term hiring plans are contributing significantly to the region's labour market as well. To better support the supply chain for upcoming refurbishment work at the Bruce Power facility, the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries opened an office in Port Elgin.126 The office will include staff from the Indigenous Relations Suppliers' Network, which aims to raise participation of local Indigenous communities through employment, business partnerships, and procurement, throughout the refurbishment stage. The region's cannabis industry also continued to expand with 7ACRES planning to hire 400 staff in Tiverton,127 Coulson Cannabis recruiting for its Port Elgin extraction facility expected to open in 2019,128 and MPX Bioceutical Corporation planning to convert the former PPG factory in Owen Sound into a medical marijuana production facility.129 Not all of the news was positive though, as Tenneco Inc., a manufacturer of ride control components announced that it would close its Owen Sound Plant by the end of June 2020, affecting nearly 500 workers.130

Employment in the Northeast economic region increased by 4,300 in 2018 with all of the gains in full-time employment. The outlook for the region improved over the past year as the unemployment rate dipped to 6.1% and the participation rate inched up to 58.4%. The mining industry welcomed several positive developments. Vale Canada Limited and Glencore's Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations are spending more than $1.4B on major mine development projects in the Sudbury Basin.131 Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. is spending $350M to expand its Macassa Mine in Kirkland Lake, which will create 450 jobs.132 Harte Gold Corporation is ramping up employment for its Sugar Zone Project north of White River, which will run for 12 years and employ 200 people.133 Additional announcements from North American Nickel Inc.134 and Goldcorp Inc.135 should also support mining activity in the region. To help meet demand from the mining and mining exploration industry, Northern Mining Analytical Laboratory opened a mineral testing facility in Timmins in August that can handle up to 500 samples per day.136 A number of investments were announced that should spur construction activity in the region as well. In partnership with Henvey Inlet First Nation, Pattern Energy Group started construction on the $1B Henvey Inlet Wind project off the shore of Georgian Bay.137 The project is expected to create 500 construction-related jobs and finish in mid-2019. In the manufacturing industry, Algoma Steel Inc. announced that it would invest $300M to expand capacity at its Sault Ste. Marie plant and hire additional staff to cover pending retirements.138 The forestry sector welcomed news of investments from companies such as Columbia Forest Products139 and White River Forest Products LP.140

In the Northwest economic region, employment increased by 1,100 over the year, bolstered by gains in full-time employment. Economic conditions improved in the region in 2018 as more people entered the labour force bumping the participation rate up to 63.7%, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1%. Over the year, both the provincial141 and federal governments made a number of investments in the region, the largest being a $1.6B contract between Wataynikaneyap Power LP and the Government of Canada to connect 16 First Nation communities in the region to the provincial power grid.142 The forestry industry received positive news in 2018 as well with the restart of the Nakina sawmill.143 Resolute Forest Products also announced that it would invest $53.5M to upgrade and improve operations across northwestern Ontario.144 This includes an expansion of the company's pulp and paper mill in Thunder Bay and improvements at the Atikokan, Ignace, and Thunder Bay sawmills. The regional mining industry saw an investment of $37.9M in the Greenstone Gold Property near Geraldton.145 Further, North American Palladium Ltd. announced an underground expansion at the Lac des Iles Mine northwest of Thunder Bay.146

Employment losses were observed in two economic regions in Ontario in 2018

Following two years of increases, employment decreased in the Muskoka-Kawarthas economic region by 2,400 in 2018, due mainly to losses in part-time work. The regional labour force participation rate was 57.0%, a drop of 1.3 percentage points from the previous year, and was the second lowest participation rate in the province. Muskoka-Kawarthas has a much older population compared to other areas in the province, and the decrease in the labour force may stem from retirements. There were multiple closures in the region. GE Canada closed its Peterbrough manufacturing plant,147 Cascades Inc. closed its Peterborough packaging plant,148 and Nordia Inc. closed its Lindsay call centre, citing difficulties attracting workers among its reasons for leaving the region.149 Despite these losses, Muskoka-Kawarthas welcomed some positive announcements in 2018. A number of companies are expanding operations including Muskoka Grown Limited, which will hire an additional 100 employees.150 Construction also began on the Coca-Cola Company dairy production facility in Peterborough, which should start production in 2020.151

Employment in the Kingston‒Pembroke economic region declined by 1,800 in 2018, primarily in full-time work. The participation rate decreased by 1.4 percentage points to 56.7%, making it the lowest in the province, and the unemployment rate fell 0.6 percentage points to 5.2%, the lowest level seen since 2007. A number of layoffs were announced in the region including the closure of the Sysco Canada Inc. plant in Kingston,152 the upcoming closure of the Sandvik Materials Technology Canada plant in Arnprior,153 and job cuts at the Nylene Canada Inc. facility in Arnprior.154 Not all of the news was unfavorable though. Positive regional manufacturing announcements came fromBombardier Inc. establishing a new production line at its Kingston plant,155 ABcann Medicinals Inc. expanding its Napanee facility,156 Frulact Canada Inc. establishing a food processing facility in Kingston,157 and Canada Royal Milk gearing up for production at its Kingston plant by the end of 2019.158 A number of construction projects are underway in the region as well. The City of Kingston will see improvements to the Kingston Airport terminal159 and a new bridge over the Cataraqui River.160 The City of Quinte West will welcome a new Ontario Provincial Police facility161 and the City of Belleville continues to see high levels of building activity.162 The local professional, scientific and technical services industry should benefit from the hiring of over 100 scientists, engineers and other technical professions at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.163 Support activities and services for military operations are a key industry in the region. L3 Technologies MAS Inc. secured a five-year contract extension to support the CC-150 Polaris aircraft fleet at CFB Trenton, securing over 100 aerospace-related jobs in Ontario and Quebec.164 Dymech Engineering Inc. will construct an indoor live-fire training range at CFB Kingston,165 and Miltex Solutions Canada opened a facility in Trenton that will manufacture military textiles, mechanical devices and rescue equipment.166

Annual Labour Force Statistics, by Economic Region, for Ontario
Employment ('000) Year 2017 to 2018 2016 to 2017
Seasonally unadjusted data 2018 2017 2016 Number % Number %
Ontario 7242.4 7128.0 6999.6 114.4 1.6 128.4 1.8
Economic Regions          
Ottawa 709.7 695.3 692.4 14.4 2.1 2.9 0.4
Kingston¿Pembroke 206.3 208.1 212.5 -1.8 -0.9 -4.4 -2.1
Muskoka¿Kawarthas 179.0 181.4 170.6 -2.4 -1.3 10.8 6.3
Toronto 3521.6 3442.9 3373.2 78.7 2.3 69.7 2.1
Kitchener¿Waterloo¿Barrie 726.4 723.7 706.0 2.7 0.4 17.7 2.5
Hamilton¿Niagara Peninsula 751.5 750.1 721.4 1.4 0.2 28.7 4.0
London 336.1 330.1 330.9 6.0 1.8 -0.8 -0.2
Windsor¿Sarnia 302.4 299.3 299.4 3.1 1.0 -0.1 0.0
Stratford¿Bruce Peninsula 155.8 149.0 145.5 6.8 4.6 3.5 2.4
Northeast 249.8 245.5 247.8 4.3 1.8 -2.3 -0.9
Northwest 103.8 102.7 99.9 1.1 1.1 2.8 2.8
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey -Table 14-10-0090-01

Annual Employment Growth, by Economic Region, for Ontario 2017-2018
Annual Employment Growth, by Economic Region, for Ontario 2017-2018
. The data table for this graph is located below

Show data table
Seasonally unadjusted data %
Ontario 1.6%
Economic Regions
    Muskoka¿Kawarthas -1.32%
    Kingston¿Pembroke -0.86%
    Hamilton¿Niagara Peninsula 0.19%
    Kitchener¿Waterloo¿Barrie 0.37%
    Windsor¿Sarnia 1.04%
    Northwest 1.0710808
    Northeast 1.75%
    London 1.82%
    Ottawa 2.07%
    Toronto 2.29%
    Stratford¿Bruce Peninsula 4.56%

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 and Socio-Economic Information (LMSI) Directorate, Service Canada, Ontario

For further information, please contact the LMSID team at:

For information on the Labour Force Survey, please visit the Statistics Canada Web site at:

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada as represented by Employment and Social Development Canada, 2019, all rights reserved

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  2. Range provided is based on the analysis of multiple industry reports

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