The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Canadian Building Permits Down 12.9% in January

Month-to-month decrease primarily due to lower construction intentions for non-residential buildings in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Canadian municipalities issued building permits worth C$6.1 billion (US$4.8 billion) in January, down 12.9 percent from December. The decrease in January resulted mostly from lower construction intentions for non-residential buildings in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

The value of non-residential building permits fell 22.8 percent to C$2 billion (US$1.6 billion) in January, following a 15 percent increase in December. Decreases were recorded in eight provinces, with Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario accounting for most of the drop and Quebec (+54.3 percent) registering the largest increase.

In the residential sector, the value of permits declined 7 percent to C$4.1 billion (US$3.25 billion), following a 1.5 percent increase in December. Decreases were registered in every province, except Saskatchewan, as a result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings. Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba posted the largest declines. Saskatchewan posted an increase in the value of both single and multi-family dwelling permits.

Nonresidential sector
In January, construction intentions for commercial buildings decreased 8 percent to C$1.3billion (US$1 billion), following a 15.1 percent increase in December. The decrease was the result of lower construction intentions for a variety of commercial buildings, including hotels and restaurants, warehouses and office buildings. Declines were recorded in seven provinces, with British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario posting the largest decreases and Quebec (+110.6 percent) registering the largest increase.

In the industrial component, construction intentions fell 22.8 percent to C$337 million (US$267.5 million), following a 14.2 percent increase the previous month.  The decrease was mainly attributable to lower construction intentions for transportation-related buildings and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing plants in several provinces. Gains were registered in four provinces in this component, led by Quebec.

The value of building permits in the institutional component decreased 49.8 percent to C$387 million (US$307.2 million) in January, following a 15.2 percent increase in December. The value of institutional building permits was down in six provinces, with Alberta and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia accounting for much of the monthly decrease. The decline at the national level was the result of lower construction intentions for educational institutions, medical facilities as well as nursing homes and retirement residences. Ontario posted the largest gain in the value of institutional building permits.

Residential sector

In January Canadian municipalities issued building permits for single-family dwellings worth C$2.6 billion (US$2.1 billion), up 3.5 percent from December.This was the second consecutive monthly advance. Increases were reported in four provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec.

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings fell 21 percent to C$1.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) in January, marking a fourth consecutive monthly decrease and the lowest level for the component since March 2013. The decrease in January was the result of lower construction intentions in nine provinces, with Ontario registering by far the largest decline. Saskatchewan was the lone province to post an increase.

At the national level, municipalities approved the construction of 14,888 new dwellings in January, down 7.5 percent from December. The decline was the result of a 12.9 percent decrease in the number of multi-family dwellings to 8,510 units. Conversely, the number of single-family dwellings increased 0.9 percent to 6,378 units.

By geography

The total value of permits was up in eight provinces in January, with Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario registering the largest declines. In Alberta, the value of permits fell 27.2 percent to C$1.3 billion (US$1 billion), after posting a 32.6 percent increase in December, which came mainly from permits issued for institutional projects. In British Columbia, the decline of 24.2 percent to C$768.4 million (US$609.9 million) was attributable to lower construction intentions in both the non-residential and residential sectors. Ontario's decrease of 9.1 percent to C$2.3 billion (US$1.8 billion) resulted from lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings as well as commercial and industrial buildings.

The largest gain occurred in Quebec, 15.7 percent to C$1.3 billion (US$1 billion), with commercial buildings and single-family dwellings accounting for most of the increase.

Construction intentions were down in 23 of the 34 census metropolitan areas. The largest decreases occurred in Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.

The declines in both Edmonton and Vancouver were attributable to lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings. In Calgary, multi-family dwellings, as well as commercial and institutional buildings were responsible for the decline. All three of these CMAs posted notable gains in December.

The largest gains occurred in Montréal, followed by Québec. In Montréal, commercial buildings contributed the most to the monthly increase, while in Québec the advance came from the non-residential and residential sectors.

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