The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Canadian Building Permits Up 11.6% in April

Month-to-month increase due to higher construction intentions for residential and non-residential sectors in Ontario.

Canadian municipalities issued building permits worth C$7.8 billion (US$6.3 billion) in April, up 11.6 percent from March, the second consecutive monthly advance. The increase in April resulted from higher construction intentions in both the residential and non-residential sectors in Ontario.

The value of non-residential building permits rose 30.2 percent to C$3.3 billion (US$2.7 billion) in April, following a 24.8 percent gain in March. Increases were posted in three provinces, led by Ontario, followed by Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador. British Columbia and Quebec registered the largest declines in construction intentions for non-residential buildings.

Construction intentions for residential buildings increased 1.2 percent to C$4.5 billion (US$3.6 billion), a third consecutive monthly advance. Gains were noted in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The largest decrease occurred in British Columbia, which had posted a notable increase the previous month.

Nonresidential sector

In April, value of permits issued for commercial buildings increased 7.8 percent to C$1.5 billion (US$1.2 billion). This was the second straight monthly advance. Nationally, the gain came mainly from increased intentions for retail and wholesale outlets as well as retail complexes. Increases were posted in six provinces, led by Alberta and Ontario. British Columbia recorded the largest decrease, following large gains in February and March.

In the industrial component, construction intentions rose 10.9 percent to C$480 million (US$386.2 million), the third increase in four months. Higher construction intentions for transportation-related buildings and utilities buildings were responsible for the advance in this component. Ontario, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador registered gains. Quebec and British Columbia posted the largest declines.

The value of building permits in the institutional component increased 86.2 percent to C$1.3 billion (US$1.1 billion) in April, following an 83.7 percent gain the previous month. The national advance was attributable to higher construction intentions for medical facilities and government buildings. The value of permits rose in three provinces, with Ontario registering the largest advance, and Newfoundland and Labrador as well as New Brunswick placing a distant second and third. Quebec and Alberta posted the largest declines among the remaining provinces.

Residential sector

In April, Canadian municipalities issued building permits for single-family dwellings worth C$2.5 billion (US$2 billion), up 6.6 percent from March, marking the first increase in three months. Increases were recorded in five provinces, led by Ontario and Alberta. Saskatchewan and British Columbia registered the largest declines.

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings fell 4.5 percent to C$2.1 billion (US$1.7 billion) in April. The decline came after two strong consecutive monthly gains. British Columbia and Alberta accounted for most of the decrease, while advances were registered in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

At the national level, municipalities approved the construction of 17,896 new dwellings in April, down 4.5 percent from March. The decline came from an 8.1 percent drop in the number of multi-family dwellings to 12,141 units. Conversely, the number of single dwelling units increased 4.1 percent to 5,755.

By geography

The total value of permits was up in four provinces in April, led by Ontario, followed by Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The gain in Ontario occurred mainly as a result of higher construction intentions for institutional structures and residential buildings. In Alberta, the advance came from increased intentions for commercial buildings, single-family dwellings and industrial buildings. In Nova Scotia, the increase was the result of higher construction intentions for residential buildings, principally multi-family dwellings; while in Newfoundland and Labrador, the gain originated from industrial buildings.

British Columbia, which recorded an increase in March, posted the largest decline in April. This was the result of lower construction intentions in all types of buildings, with multiple dwellings accounting for much of the decrease. In Quebec, higher construction intentions for residential structures were not sufficiently large to offset the decrease registered in the non-residential sector.

The total value of permits rose in 20 of the 34 census metropolitan areas in April, led by Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax and St. John's.

The increase in Toronto was mainly attributable to institutional buildings and multi-family dwellings. In Edmonton, the gain was the result of increased intentions for commercial buildings and, to a lesser extent, single-family dwellings. The increase in Halifax came mostly from multiple dwellings, while in St. John's, higher construction intentions for industrial buildings explained the advance.

In contrast, Vancouver posted the biggest drop, mostly as a result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and, to a lesser extent, commercial and industrial buildings. In Québec, the decline originated from lower intentions for residential structures and commercial buildings. In Kelowna, which had a notable gain the previous month, the decrease came from commercial buildings.

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