The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Canadian Building Permits Down 3% in March

Decrease driven by lower construction intentions in the non-residential sector.

Canadian municipalities issued building permits worth $6 billion in March, down 3 percent from February, according to Statistics Canada. The decrease in March was due primarily to lower construction intentions in the non-residential sector.

In the residential sector, the value of permits rose 1 percent to $3.7 billion, following a 20.8 percent decrease in February. Higher residential construction intentions were registered in five provinces, led by British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Quebec and New Brunswick posted the largest decreases.

Construction intentions in the non-residential sector fell 8.8 percent to $2.3 billion in March, the lowest level since January 2013. This follows a 7.4 percent increase the previous month. Declines were recorded in six provinces, with Ontario accounting for most of the decrease. Gains were registered in four provinces, led by Alberta, followed by Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

The value of permits for multi-family dwellings rose 7.9 percent to $1.6 billion in March, following a 30.7 percent decrease the previous month. Increases were reported in most provinces, led by Ontario and British Columbia.

Construction intentions for single-family dwellings fell 3.6 percent to $2.1 billion. This was the fourth decrease in five months and marked the lowest level for the component since February 2011. Declines were registered in seven provinces, with Ontario and New Brunswick posting the largest decreases.

Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 15,833 new dwellings, 12.2 percent more than in February. The rise was attributable to multi-family dwellings, which increased 21.2 percent to 10,191 units. In contrast, single-family dwellings fell 1.2 percent to 5,642 units.

Canadian municipalities issued $467 million worth of institutional building permits in March, down 31.3 percent from February. The value of institutional building permits was down in five provinces. Ontario accounted for most of the decrease, the result of lower construction intentions for medical facilities. British Columbia and Alberta posted the largest gains in March, as a result of educational institutions.

After posting a 29.7 percent increase in February, the value of permits in the industrial component fell 7.7 percent in March to $329 million. Declines in four provinces, led by Quebec and Ontario, offset increases in the other provinces. The decline in March was largely the result of lower construction intentions for mining facilities and agricultural buildings in Quebec, as well as manufacturing plants in Ontario and Quebec. British Columbia recorded the largest gain, followed by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

In the commercial component, the value of permits rose 1.2 percent to $1.5 billion. Alberta accounted for most of the increase as a result of higher construction intentions for retail complexes and hotels and restaurants. British Columbia and Saskatchewan posted the largest declines, mostly the result of lower construction intentions for office buildings.

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