The Canadian Construction Association’s annual “Hill Day” took place November 15, 2022, with representatives from the Canadian construction sector calling on the federal government to make changes to modernize Canada’s immigration policy and update the Temporary Foreign Worker program in order to address the most severe labour shortage Canada has faced in more than 50 years.

“To build our better tomorrow, we need the builders. Skilled people cannot be created overnight, and we need them now. It is vital that we turn to immigration and temporary foreign labour to help alleviate the choke points created by the workforce shortage,” said Mary Van Buren, president, Canadian Construction Association

While every province and sector of the Canadian economy is reeling from historically high job vacancy rates, the situation is especially acute for the construction sector.

“Immigrants and newcomers have helped to build the Canada we have today. Policies that better utilize the skills and experience of immigrants and newcomers will help build the workforce we need to build the better Canada of tomorrow. We won’t get there without them,” said Brendan Nobes, Chair, Canadian Construction Association.

The federal government has an ambitious growth plan – one that includes repairing, maintaining and retrofitting aging infrastructure while also building for future climate resilience. But even the best laid plans can be derailed without the workers we need to keep us on track. The construction industry is currently struggling to fill over 81,000 jobs nationwide. This means that essential projects – schools, hospitals, power generation, roads, bridges and trade corridors that connect our communities not only to each other, but also to the global marketplace – may be delayed or cancelled.

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The recent announcement that Canada would seek to welcome up to 500,000 new immigrants annually by 2025 is a good start, but skills matching is essential.

Urgent action from the federal government includes:

  • Modernizing Canada’s immigration policy and point system to better recognize those with relevant skills and construction labourers.
  • Working with the provinces to ensure skills matching is properly funded and supported.
  • Updating the Temporary Foreign Worker program to allow seamless access for the construction industry.

Featured image: CCA members met with government officials in Ottawa to discuss needed policy changes to rebuild Canada’s workforce. (Canadian Construction Association)

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