As Ontario's construction industry grapples with a "monumental" labour shortage, the province announced plans to boost the number of skilled immigrants it welcomes over the coming years.
As part of a new deal with the federal government, the province will double the number of economic immigrants it selects under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) from 9K in 2021 to more than 18K in 2025.
In 2022, Ontario's OINP allocation from the federal government was 9,750, with 3,900 spots filled by skilled trades workers. Under the new agreement, the province will be able to nominate 16,500 immigrants in 2023, accounting for 36% of the national allocation of provincial nominees.
Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development, implored the federal government to double the number of immigrants allowed under OINP in 2021.
The Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) applauded the deal, noting that it will help address the impending retirement of 43K construction workers across the province.
"We are facing a critical labour shortage in specific skilled trades in the residential construction industry and doubling the number of immigrants allowed under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program will certainly help tackle the problem," said RESCON President Richard Lyall. "Domestic training alone will not be enough to offset anticipated shortages. We need skilled immigrants."
The sentiment was shared across the construction and development industries, with Geoffrey Smith, President of Ellisdon, calling the deal a "much-needed step in the right direction," and Bryan G. Arnold, President and CEO of Eastern Construction, touting that it will help "deliver crucial infrastructure projects in a timely and efficient manner."
Increasing the number of skilled immigrants in the province will help Ontario reach its goal of building 1.5M new homes by 2031, noted Joe Francavilla, Senior Vice President of Menkes Developments.
RESCON's Lyall has previously told STOREYS he believes Ontario will need 100K additional construction workers in order to hit the target in time.