Employment in the sector grew rapidly during the 1990s, from around 67,000 persons in 1992 to about 131,000 persons by 2003. Between 2003 and 2006, aggregate workforce growth slowed - due primarily to deteriorating demand conditions in the wood furniture sector.

Although there are some large scale manufacturers, Canada's advanced wood products manufacturing sector is highly fragmented. There are many thousands of small shops employing fewer than four people. Geographically, the sector is widely dispersed across Canada with large concentrations of manufacturing activity in or close to metropolitan areas. Regionally, the largest number of firms and employees are in Quebec and Ontario. The sector's workforce grew between 1999 and 2003 at around six percent annually.

Did you know?

  • 9,122 establishments were operating in the sector within Canada in 2003
    • 56% making furniture
    • 20% producing cabinets
    • 7% manufacturing windows and doors
    • 4% millwork plants
    • 13% producing building components and factory-built housing
  • Over 131,000 persons were employed in the sector in 2003. Nearly 76,000 persons (58% of the sector's workforce) were employed in furniture and cabinet-making. Furniture manufacturing is the largest single sub-sector in terms of employment, with more than 52,400 persons employed in 2003. Employment growth averaged 4.4% per year (1999-2003) - slower than the average rate for the sector overall (6.2%).
  • Millwork manufacturing is the second largest sub-sector (over 30,000 persons employed in 2003), and exhibited one of the fastest rates of workforce growth over the period (8.3% average annually).
  • Kitchen and bathroom cabinets, responding to very high levels of new homebuilding and renovations, employed over 23,000 persons in 2003 - and experienced a very rapid 9.8% annual growth rate in its workforce.
  • Window and door production and building components and factory-built housing employed about the same number of persons in 2003 - between 13,500 to 14,500 persons in each case.
  • Factory-built housing and building components manufacturing is comparatively labour intensive, and this sub-sector's workforce grew at a comparatively high average annual rate of 7.1% over the five year period to 2003.
  • Canada's window and door manufacturing sub-sector, on the other hand, includes a number of larger scale firms along with numerous specialty producers. Its overall workforce growth was a fairly modest 3.4% over the period-reflecting a high degree of capital intensity.
  • Small shops employing up to 4 persons are the heart of Canada's advanced wood processing sector, accounting for 60% of all establishments. However, Canada also has many global scale and internationally renowned, leading-edge medium and large scale producers. Many of these are very large scale employers.

Labour Force Projections for the Advanced Wood Products Processing Sector

Sub-Sector Estimated Workforce
# Persons
Growth Rate (Annual Average)  1991-2003
Projected Workforce
# Persons
2010 v. 2003
# Persons Growth Rate %/y
Projected Workforce
# Persons
2015 v. 2010
# Persons Growth Rate %/y
Furniture 51,270 +2.6% 40,000 (11,270)
45,000 +5,000
Cabinets 23,262 +5.4% 29,500 +6,238
36,000 +6,500
Windows & Doors 11,830 +0.1% 14,500 +2,670
15,500 +1,000
Other Millwork 30,207 +6.0% 38,000 +7,793
43,000 +5,000
Building Components & Factory-Built Housing 14,572 +5.5% 18,000 +3,428
23,000 +5,000

*Additional information is available from the Wood Manufacturing Council Sector Study available online from the WMC/CFB web site.