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Canada’s immigration plans can help with housing crisis by boosting residential construction sector

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An encouraging link was found in new research from The Conference Board of Canada (CBoC), in partnership with the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) and Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA).

It’s between immigration programs and alleviating labour shortages in Canada’s residential construction sector, along with aiding the country in reaching its residential construction goals.

 

A gap between goals and reality

 

These Government of Canada goals include an additional 3.5 million units by 2030, comprising standalone housing, condo units and other home types for homeowners and renters.

The problem is the country will face an average structural labour shortage of 12,000 jobs a year, based on expected growth of 15 per cent by 2030, according to CBoC. As for the trades (including residential construction needed to build new homes), its shortage is largely in part due to challenges attracting youth and an aging workforce.

“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,” says Stefan Fournier, executive director at CBoC.

“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.”

 

Recommendations to address housing crisis

 

The report outlines five recommendations for policymakers that would better Canada’s immigration system and address the housing crisis affecting so many. These ideas involve allowing skilled residential construction workers into the country to begin contributing to the sector right away.

 

Collaboration needed for maximum impact

 

What’s critical for maximum impact here, though, is the collaboration between provincial governments, regulators and employers in acknowledging regional and national issues and moving forward.

“Each day we see the impact that a lack of housing supply is having on Canadians from coast to coast,” Michael Bourque, CEO at CREA, comments.

“Without policy intervention, Canada will not have the workers required to meet its ambitious homebuilding targets, and Canadians will continue to face challenges whether they are looking to purchase or rent a home.”

 

“Targets must include measures to attract and secure workers from the residential construction sector”

 

Canada’s immigration system more often selects those with high human capital instead of skills to fill in-demand jobs. Although the country administers the Federal Skilled Trade Program, it fails to address immigration barriers for tradespeople.

“40 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,” says Tim Hudak, CEO of OREA.

“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.”

“Canada needs immigration programs that support an expanded supply of workers with experience in the trades, including residential construction,” Trevor Koot, CEO of BCREA, points out.

 

Read the full report, including detailed recommendations, here.

 


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