This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 9/30/2019

Overview

The Construction sector is valued at US$126.3 billion, accounting for over 7% of Canada’s GDP. Employing approximately 1.4 million Canadians in 2018, the sector purchases goods and services from every region of the country and every segment of the economy, making it a barometer of general economic health.
There are four general categories of construction: New Home Building and Renovation (single and multi-family); Heavy Industrial; Commercial and Institutional; and Civil Engineering.

The Canadian residential construction industry is generally considered the leading indicator for the overall health of the Canadian economy. Canada’s six largest urban areas of Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa continue to have the highest housing starts due in part to an influx of over 320,000 immigrants to the country in 2018. Canada-wide housing starts in 2018 were 212,843, with Ontario representing one of the hottest construction markets (78,742 starts), followed by Québec (46,874) and British Columbia (40,857).

Residential starts for 2019 have decreased by over 13% in quarter 1 due to tight government regulations to cool overheating housing markets, especially in, Vancouver and Toronto, including higher down payment requirements, tougher loan-to-value ratios and increases in mortgage insurance premiums. According to industry experts, over the coming decade, British Columbia is projected to lead construction growth in Canada. Ontario also takes the lead in Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) construction at US$4.8 billion in 2017. However, Alberta dominates in Civil Engineering construction with US$8.3 billion in 2017. Non-residential projects are forecast to increase by 18.6% in 2018.

Construction Sector and Construction Machinery
Positive trends in the non-residential construction market will help support growth for Canadian construction machinery manufacturers and counteract falling demand from residential housing markets. However, construction machinery manufacturers in the United States and Japan provide the bulk of equipment used throughout Canada. Foreign competition is anticipated to remain strong, limiting domestic machinery industry revenue growth. Nevertheless, the weak Canadian dollar is helping to make domestic goods more competitive in both foreign and domestic markets, growing industry exports.

Table: Canada Construction Machinery Production

US$ Millions

2015

2016

2017

2018 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

1,795

1,644

1,823

1,943

Total Exports

1,261

1,210

1,290

1,395

Total Imports

4,876

4,232

5,903

8,443

Imports from the US

2,807

2,429

3,232

4,533

Total Market Size

5,410

4,666

6,435

8,990

(total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
US$ thousands / Exchange Rate:  US$1 = C$1.2957

Leading Sub-Sectors

Greenbuild: The 2017 budget detailed the Canadian Government’s plan to invest US$16.8 billion in green infrastructure. For green certification, Canada ranks second only to the United States in the number of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) with 3,712 certified projects worldwide, 1,396 (37.6%) of which are in Ontario.
Transportation Infrastructure: Demand for modern transportation systems is on the upswing in Canada, including new road and bridge systems. As outlined in the Canadian Federal Budget, starting in 2018-19, US$15.5 billion will be provided for public transit infrastructure construction and rehabilitation. As of May 2019, Ontario alone has over 484 transit projects in progress, ranging from rapid-transit to regional systems, and 299 Roads and Bridges projects. In 2019, Ontario Premier Ford unveiled his nearly $22.5-billion Toronto-area transit expansion plan.

Opportunities

Canada’s budget provisions can provide opportunities for U.S. firms to tap into refurbishment projects and new project initiatives. Through the Investing in Canada plan, the Government of Canada is more than doubling existing infrastructure funding. The plan is based on three key objectives:

  • Create long-term economic growth

  • Support a low carbon, green economy

  • Build inclusive communities


In its 2016 budget, the Government laid out its plan to invest around US$135 billion in infrastructure over twelve years. This plan is underway and is supporting new infrastructure projects and economic activity across Canada. As of 2018, over 7,800 projects, with combined investments of over US$32 billion, have been approved for communities across the country and should help create or maintain an estimated 42,000 jobs by 2020–21. The plan’s five main infrastructure priorities are:

  • Public Transit

  • Green Infrastructure

  • Social/Community Infrastructure

  • Trade and Transportation

  • Rural and Northern Communities


The implementation of Canada’s ambitious plan announced in 2016, will likely ramp up in the years 2019 and onwards.

The 2016 Budget committed US$10.8 billion for the rehabilitation, repair, and modernization of existing public transit, green and social infrastructure. Additional funding was targeted towards post-secondary education and broadband access for remote communities.

The 2018 budget saw the Government of Canada signing new bilateral agreements with all provinces and territories to generate more than US$25.4 billion in federal investment towards significant infrastructure projects across the country under the five aforementioned priority areas. For example, the bilateral agreement between Canada and Ontario for long-term infrastructure projects will provide more than US$9.1 billion over the next decade in federal funding under the Investing in Canada plan. About 70% of funding is concentrated among the provinces of Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta.

The Investing in Canada plan also includes two new initiatives: The Smart Cities Challenge and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The latter replaces the phased-out Public-Private Partnerships (P3) and will invest US$27 billion from federal funds in infrastructure projects that are in the public interest and generate revenue by attracting private and institutional capital. Through the Smart Cities Challenge, the Government of Canada is stimulating community idea generation to improve the lives of residents through innovation, data, and connected technology.

Major Upcoming Events/Trade Shows
Greenbuild International Conference and Expo
https://www.greenbuildexpo.com/en/home.html
Atlanta, Georgia
November 20-22, 2019

The Buildings Show
https://www.thebuildingsshow.com/en/home.html
Toronto, Ontario
December 4-6, 2019

World of Concrete
https://www.worldofconcrete.com/en/attendee.html
Las Vegas, Nevada
February 4-7, 2020

The National Heavy Equipment Show
http://www.nhes.ca/
2021
Mississauga, Ontario 

Web Resources

Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan:  http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/about-invest-apropos-eng.html
Ontario Transit Infrastructure Plan:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-toronto-subway-upload-gta-transit-plan-1.5090394
Build Ontario: https://www.ontario.ca/page/building-ontario
Canadian Green Building Council: www.cagbc.org
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation: www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca

 

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Canada Design and Construction Trade Development and Promotion