Housing & Infrastructure annual report"> Housing & Infrastructure" /> Housing & Infrastructure – Colleges and Institutes Canada Annual Report

Housing & Infrastructure

Canada is grappling with a significant housing crisis. Skyrocketing housing prices and rental rates have pushed many Canadians out of the market, creating housing instability and affordability challenges, exacerbated by a lack of housing supply.

Meanwhile, colleges and institutes, deeply rooted in communities with a proven track record of innovation and adaptability, have emerged as critical partners. Over the past year, our collective efforts have fostered a flurry of new partnerships and the implementation of innovative solutions. These initiatives aim to expediate the construction of student accommodations and tackle labour shortages in Canada’s home-building workforce.

Colleges and institutes as key partners in addressing the critical need for student housing

The housing crisis has had a particularly stark impact on students, especially in urban centres where student housing shortages and exorbitant rents have become commonplace. In response, colleges and institutes have been building innovative partnerships with local developers and non-profit organizations to deliver tailored solutions for their communities. This includes redesigning existing spaces to expand on-campus housing and forming partnerships for affordable living spaces. Over 30% of our members are allocating more than $950 million to student housing projects, with 43% contemplating similar initiatives.

Driven by a commitment to student success and addressing a housing shortage, Niagara College plans to triple its on-campus housing over the next four years, adding living spaces for approximately 1,000 students at its Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses. This expansion is part of the college’s new master plan, which includes significant capital investments and renovations to enhance student experience.
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To showcase these efforts and advocate for greater support, CICan held several meetings with key government officials and ran a member-led advocacy campaign on National Housing Day to emphasize the crucial role of colleges and institutes in addressing Canada’s housing crisis.

Expanding the construction workforce

In a very real sense, Canada’s housing challenge isn’t just about money; it’s also fundamentally about developing a workforce capable of meeting demand. Throughout 2023-24, CICan directed efforts toward tackling the worker shortage in skilled trades and boosting sector diversity by incentivizing the hiring of first-year apprentices and fostering inclusivity through financial incentives and resources.

In the context of national challenges related to housing availability and affordability, our Career Launcher Apprenticeships program contributed to a workforce capable of meeting demand. The program equipped businesses to embrace diverse talent, filling immediate skill gaps within the trades and laying the foundation for a more resilient and inclusive future. As a result, 417 new apprentices were hired, with 63% coming from underrepresented groups. Additionally, over 4,500 individuals accessed diversity workforce resources, and 253 businesses received funding to support their growth and resilience.

The program has provided tremendous support to our workforce development goals. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to bring the apprentice on board. She has been a highly beneficial addition to our team.

– Ian Moniz, Owner, Moniz Contracting

As part of Career Launcher, CICan also introduced ApprenticeConnect, a bilingual platform created by our members to support apprentice recruitment, training, and retention for employers in the construction and manufacturing sectors. In addition to promoting a positive work culture that reduces burnout, injuries, and turnover, the toolkit supports the recruitment and development of workers from traditionally underrepresented groups in the skilled trades.

Advancing sustainable housing solutions through college applied research

Beyond addressing the housing needs of students, colleges and institutes have been stepping up over the past year with innovative and sustainable solutions to address housing for all Canadians.

For example, Holland College, which has partnered with the Government of Prince Edward Island and the Construction Association of PEI engaged students from Carpentry, Construction, Electrical, and Plumbing programs to create 32 tiny homes for Islanders on the social housing registry.
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Our members are also actively contributing to building better homes. Their state-of-the-art training facilities and leading research centres collaborate with local businesses and industries to promote green building technologies and sustainable urban planning solutions. Moreover, they are driving the adoption of emerging technologies and cultivating innovation in sustainable construction practices, aiming not only to build better homes but to build better futures for people, communities and the planet. With over 4,557 planned infrastructure projects valued at $11 billion in the next five years, their impact is poised to make a significant impact.