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Fenestration Forum: July/August 2010

The importance of fenestration related industries

July 1, 2010  By Brian Burton

The construction sector is Canada’s largest industry and employer and is
an extremely valuable component of our economy. Regrettably it rarely
receives the attention it deserves.

The construction sector is Canada’s largest industry and employer and is an extremely valuable component of our economy. Regrettably it rarely receives the attention it deserves.

This is surprising in a nation where we typically spend over 90 per cent of our time indoors and, per capita, spend more money on construction than just about any country in the world.
The industry encompasses 215,000 enterprises with 853,400 employees working on-site, 182,000 in building product manufacturing and 136,200 in engineering and architecture. It also employs 50 per cent of all apprentices in the nation.

The services and products it provides are a fundamental determinant of the nation’s competitiveness and the remarkable efficiency and profitability of the sector is critical to our economic and social success.
Fenestration elements are generally some of the most valuable factory assembled elements of the building envelope, which comprises over 60 per cent of building cost.


When the manufacture, assembly, shipping, installation and maintenance, as well as the impact of auto glass sector and other glass manufacturing industries are factored in – the economic contribution is worth a great deal more than we realize. Global demand for fenestration products alone will reach the $125 billion mark in 2011.

Economic Impact
The economic impact of the industry and its dedicated supply chain is a great deal larger than defined by “traditional” construction statistics, which typically focus almost entirely on the activities of general contractors and specialty trades.

In actual fact, the “value-added” components of the sector also include the design of buildings and infrastructure, engineering and architectural services, manufacture, maintenance and renewal. The machinery and equipment used in construction, operation, maintenance, and recycling of facilities should also be included in the list
The industry in its entirety almost certainly represents more than 20 per cent of the GDP when you consider the impact on all sectors of the economy.

One out of every 16 workers employed in Canada works in the construction industry and the sector leads employment growth in our economy, increasing by 7.1 per cent over the past five years. (Although the industry is a major employer, the size of the average construction firm is actually quite small with 80 per cent of firms having less than five employees.)
Construction workers are involved in the installation, repair or renovation of more than $150 billion of work every year.
There are over 200,000 firms in the residential, commercial and intuitional construction industries.
Canada’s annual GDP growth rate in 2005 was 3.2 per cent for all industries, and 4.7 per cent for construction. While total employment in Canada grew at a rate of 1.4 per cent in 2005, construction employment had a solid growth rate of more than 7 per cent.
40 per cent of construction workers were located in Ontario, followed by Quebec (18 per cent), and British Columbia and Alberta (16 per cent).
Total revenues were more than $100 billion.

Brian Burton is a Business Development Consultant for Kleinfeldt Consultants. He can be reached at

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