Labour shortage, supply chains, ongoing issues for northeastern Ontario construction sector
New provincial and federal investments to help address labour shortage
Northeastern Ontario's construction sector faces challenges with supply chains and labour as demand continues to grow in the region, said the new executive director of the Northeastern Ontario Construction Association.
Mark Kivinen said it will be important for the industry and all levels of government to work together to find solutions to supply chain and labour challenges, which have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Infrastructure has to be built and we need resources to do that.- Mark Kivinen, Northeastern Ontario Construction Association
In Greater Sudbury, new Mayor Paul Lefebvre has said the city needs to increase its population base from around 160,000 people to 200,000 to have a tax base to support demands on services and infrastructure.
Lefebvre said new opportunities in the mining sector, thanks to greater demand for the critical minerals that power electric vehicle batteries, will help the city get there.
"The buildings have to be built. The offices have to be built," Kivinen said.
"Infrastructure has to be built and we need resources to do that. And we need housing for those workers that are going to build this."
Kivinen said some products and services for the construction industry are more readily available today, than they were a year or two ago.
But he said there remains a lot of room for improvement regarding global supply chains.
The skilled labour shortage also remains a problem, Kivinen said. But he added there have been some positive developments to encourage young people to get into the trades.
In last year's budget the federal government said it would provide $470 million over three years to help first-year apprentices in eligible Red Seal trades connect with jobs at small and medium-sized enterprises.
And the Ontario government announced in September that it would invest $90 million to support upgrading the skills of workers.
The Skills Development Fund will prioritize programs for people with prior involvement in the criminal justice system, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, Ukrainian newcomers, and others facing barriers to employment.
"As we continue to combat the largest labour shortage in a generation, there are tens of thousands of people who need a hand up, including those previously involved in the justice system who have paid their dues and just want to give back," Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said in a press release at that time.