Housing crisis, labour shortage in the media spotlight
November 4th, 2021 6:45 pm     A+ | a-

By Grant Cameron/RESCON
The housing crisis and labour shortage were key issues highlighted by RESCON in October, along with the need for a standardized, streamlined and digitized development approvals process across all municipalities.
Lack of housing received considerable attention from party leaders during the federal election campaign and the conversation continued beyond the hustings as the media remained focused on the issue in October.
RESCON president Richard Lyall wrote about the crisis in The Toronto Sun and noted that no one level of government can bring about meaningful change on its own.
“The federal government has levers it can apply to produce housing, but to move the needle it will need the province, regions and municipalities on side as well,” he wrote.
He’s correct, of course. When it comes to dealing with barriers to the development approvals process and housing, there are myriad issues.
“Housing is an incredibly complex industry – perhaps the most regulated of our industries,” Lyall wrote in the article. “We have hundreds of contractors, tens of thousands of workers, many different kinds of materials, and a development approvals process that includes up to 45 different government agencies, ministries and organizations.”
The labour shortage was also an issue that received considerable media attention in October. Our thoughts on the matter were covered by several publications.
Lyall was interviewed by host Leslie Roberts on CFRA 580 News Talk Radio in Ottawa and spoke about the need for more people to take up the trades as well as how to get into the industry.
In a column in Canadian Real Estate Wealth, he noted that we need more youth, women and underrepresented people to take up training and pursue careers in the construction industry to offset anticipated retirements.
Ontario Citizenship and Multiculturalism Minister Parm Gill noted at a recent webinar sponsored by RESCON that over the next decade the province’s construction industry will need 100,000 workers to keep pace with growth of the industry and the number of Baby Boomers expected to retire.
Unfortunately, that’s almost 22,000 more workers than are likely to enter the industry over the 10-year period.
In a Globe & Mail article, RESCON VP Andrew Pariser stated that the industry is experiencing a tighter labour market than ever before, and that approximately 100,000 new workers are needed over the next decade.
He suggested a couple of ways to fix the problem: train more people who are presently in Canada and recruit through immigration.
In a Builder Bites column, Lyall outlined three ways to get more people into the trades: marketing and promoting the industry to youth and new immigrants; enabling jobseekers to easily get information about in-demand careers and industries and find out where to get opportunities and training; and putting supports in place to help employers who hire and employ skilled tradespeople.
In a Toronto Storeys article on the issue, he pointed out that RESCON has been sounding the alarm on the issue for some time now and more work needs to be done to get students into the trades instead of being ushered into post-secondary institutions.
“Getting a degree in philosophy is great, but maybe you’d be better off reading Plato on the side because that isn’t going to get you a job,” Lyall stated in the article.
On the issue of digitization, RESCON director of building science and innovation Paul De Berardis noted in a story in Daily Commercial News that the development approvals process is too slow, lags behind other jurisdictions and needs to be digitalized.
Research from other jurisdictions around the globe has shown that breaking down barriers between provincial, regional and municipal governments and bringing the process to a digital platform is the only way forward.
RESCON, meanwhile, distributed two press releases in October – one on lowering WSIB premiums, the other on Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Our press release on the premiums ran in Daily Commercial News, Canadian HR Reporter and Canadian Business Journal.
For Mental Illness Awareness Week, I penned an article in Rock to Road publication and noted that work-related stress, depression and anxiety are now the most reported workplace health and safety issues in the construction industry.
Our Women in Construction conference was covered in a story in Daily Commercial News which noted women are still facing barriers to entering the industry.
“The top reason,” as explained by France Daviault, executive director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, “is that there is still harassment and bullying on worksites.”
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