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Busiest construction season ever forecast for P.E.I. in 2019

Alfred Dugas works with a crane on a housing construction site in Charlottetown, between Weymouth street and Sydney street, on Monday.
Alfred Dugas works with a crane on a housing construction site in Charlottetown, between Weymouth street and Sydney street, on Monday. - Mitsuki Mori
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The anticipated busiest construction season ever for P.E.I. in 2019 could put a strain on the available workforce, according to a labour market report.

BuildForce Canada, in its labour market forecast released Monday, said the industry will have to “remain nimble’’ to ensure that labour supply meets demand.

The province is experiencing a construction boom contained in a small market, driven by continued growth in housing starts and peak levels of investment in engineering projects and industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) buildings.

BuildForce Canada’s forecasts that steady immigration-driven population growth will sustain demand for new housing and public-service facilities across the coming decade, adding 600 jobs by 2022 – a 13 per cent increase over four years.

"In the short term, the industry will need to rely on greater worker mobility and continue to engage large numbers of young people to enter the construction labour force.”
Bill Ferreira

“Meeting labour market demands depends on the ability of industry and training institutions to scale up recruitment and training capacity over a short period,” says Bill Ferreira, executive director of BuildForce Canada.

“The strong expansion in labour force requirements has been met in part by attracting workers from outside the local residential construction market, including workers from other sectors, industries and, in some cases, from outside the province. In the short term, the industry will need to rely on greater worker mobility and continue to engage large numbers of young people to enter the construction labour force.”

Total residential construction demands could add close to 400 jobs by 2022 and remain at elevated levels throughout the decade. Housing starts in Prince Edward Island surpassed 1,000 units in 2018, propelled by strong economic growth and the in-flow of nearly 8,000 immigrants to the province. Sustained levels of immigration are expected to contribute to elevated housing starts of up to 1,300 units by 2021, before returning to current levels by 2028.

Total non-residential employment is projected to rise by 13 per cent, adding 300 jobs by 2028 compared to the 2018 starting point.

P.E.I.'s construction industry is anticipated to lose 1,500 workers to retirement between 2019 and 2028 – more than one quarter of its current labour force.

Building a sustainable labour force will require the construction and maintenance industry to increase recruitment from groups traditionally underrepresented in the current industry labour force, including women, Indigenous Canadians and new Canadians.


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