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Despite boom, BC bleeding construction workers due to high costs of living

Construction workers are leaving BC by the thousands, because they can’t afford to live in the homes they build here.

The latest report from the BC Construction Association shows that in the first part of this year, nearly 15,000 construction workers moved out of BC, the worst loss in Canada.

Chris Atchison, association president, says construction is at an all-time high, with a 109 per cent increase over the past five years. However, the construction industry is facing a worker shortage because of living costs, inflation, and rising wages, and the number of workers has declined by nine per cent since 2019.

“We’ve seen indications that construction workers, both skilled and unskilled, are moving out of the province as a direct result of B.C.’s high cost of living, housing shortage, and the perception of better opportunities elsewhere,” he says. “Our workforce is invaluable, and we cannot afford to lose a single tradesperson or journeyperson. B.C. needs an effective affordable multi-unit housing strategy aimed at keeping workers like those in the construction sector within the province.”

Atchison says BC needs an affordable housing strategy to retain construction workers, and more diverse and inclusive hiring practices to attract new ones.

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