Our Issues

The construction industry in Saskatchewan is undergoing fundamental changes due to both the growth of the industry and changes occurring in the labour market. Measured by the value of building permits, activity in the construction sector bottomed out in the early 1990’s when the value of permits fell to less than $350 million per year for three consecutive years. The value increased to almost three times that amount by 2005 and doubled again to more than $2 billion in 2008 (Source: Sasktrends Monitor).

Along with increased activity in the sector, the construction industry is also playing a larger role in Saskatchewan’s economy. The industry’s contribution to Saskatchewan’s GDP was relatively flat from the late 1990’s to 2004 at 5 per cent or slightly less (measured in constant $2002). Between 2004 and 2009, the construction industry has grown to just under 7 per cent of the province’s GDP (measured in constant $2002). All types of construction activity including residential, commercial, institutional and industrial have seen increases in the value of building permits over the same time period.


Source: Sasktrends Monitor

The Saskatchewan labour market has fundamentally changed in the last five years. At one time the province was characterized by having more people than jobs. Around 2005-06 the province saw in-migration exceed out-migration for the first time since the early 1980’s. This change in migration patterns, not surprisingly, occurred with increased employment in the province. In particular, employment in the construction industry grew from under 25,000 individuals in 2003 to approximately 39,000 in 2009. Saskatchewan entered a period of having more jobs than people.


Source: Sasktrends Monitor

Demographics are changing in Saskatchewan as our workforce ages. Employers are demanding new skills and training of their workers. The Agreement on Internal Trade has introduced a new dimension of interprovincial labour mobility to Canada, at the same time that Saskatchewan has stepped up efforts to bring more skilled international immigrants to the province. Indigenous people are participating in the workforce in greater numbers than in the past and are looking for inclusive and supportive workplaces.
In 2009, the Saskatchewan construction industry had the highest percentage of young workers under the age of 25 in Canada (24 per cent) and at the same time one of the lower percentages of older workers (55 and over) in the country (14 per cent). Younger workers come with different attitudes about work/life balance, different expectations of employers and supervisors, and different demands of the workplace. In addition, Saskatchewan’s population of young people is characterized by high numbers of young Indigenous people.


Source: Sasktrends Monitor

The fundamental change in the labour market of having more jobs than people means Saskatchewan employers no longer have a range of choices when they are hiring. Unions and their employers are now competing for talent. Creating inclusive workplaces that welcome and support Indigenous employees, as well as new immigrants who may require additional language skills or assistance with credential recognition, is a challenge for employers and unions.