Toronto’s construction industry grapples with crippling labor shortage


The labor shortage in Toronto’s construction industry has forced developers to scramble to meet project delivery deadlines and, according to the Ontario Home Construction Council (RESCON), the problem shows no signs of dissipating anytime soon.

“You have a lot of mobility within the construction industry with people moving from job to job, and there have certainly been challenges internally. Due to the pandemic, people couldn’t go to work, sometimes because they had a relative at home with an immune compromised system, ”said Richard Lyall, President of RESCON.

Many of the problems started with delays in the supply chain, which catalyzed widespread planning problems. Construction crews sometimes had to stop work at one site because the materials had not arrived and move on to the next site, in which case they could not return to the first site when the materials were finally delivered. In addition, many projects that were to start in 2020 have been postponed to this year, and with too many active sites and too few trades, there have always been delays.

“It was an unusual set of circumstances with COVID throwing a wrench in the supply chain and it affected demand,” Lyall said. “We have some supply chain issues where work can get stuck due to late delivery of material. We have peak demand periods in the spring and fall which puts additional pressure on the workforce, but in the end we had some scheduling issues leading to events. with fits and starts. “

READ: Consumers Are Finally About To Pay Higher Construction Costs

The labor shortage is particularly acute in the home improvement sector of the construction industry where paid jobs are commonplace. For the record, Lyall has heard of people receiving Canada Recovery Benefit (CRP) payments while doing paid jobs at the same time, with virtually no incentive to work full time.

However, the owner of Greengold Construction confirmed to STOREYS that finding subcontractors is indeed difficult for this very reason.

“Right now there is more of a workforce issue than a supply chain issue, because with CRB a lot of the workforce will no longer be working, it is therefore more difficult to find labor, ”said Zach Goldstein. “It’s been happening for six to eight months and it’s getting worse and worse. I think the material and labor shortages will persist for another six to eight months. “

The shortage of skilled trades was inevitable. Even before the pandemic, RESCON had sounded the alarm about an impending shortage of up to 90,000 workers over the next 10 years in Ontario due to retirements and a largely barren pool of young workers. Lyall says high school students are often deterred from entering the trades and instead are introduced to post-secondary institutions, even though there is an overabundance of graduates vying for fewer and fewer jobs.

“Getting a philosophy degree is good, but maybe you’d better read Plato alongside because that won’t get you a job,” he said. “Fortunately, the government is committed to improving the situation of college trades and highlighting the benefits of a career in construction. While there has been some reform of the provincial training and apprenticeship systems, we are not yet out of the woods because there is still work to be done to attract skilled trades through immigration.

Written by
Neil sharma

Neil covered real estate for several years as a Toronto-based reporter. Prior to joining STOREYS, he was a regular contributor to the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post, Vice, Canadian Real Estate Wealth and several other publications. Do you have a real estate history? Email him at [email protected]

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