Investment in non-residential building construction

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First quarter 2011 (Previous release)

Investment in non-residential building construction increased 1.3% from the previous quarter to $10.7 billion in the first quarter. This was the fifth consecutive quarterly increase and reflected higher spending in both commercial and industrial building construction.

Investment increases in non-residential building construction

First-quarter investment increased in five provinces. The largest gains were in Ontario and Quebec, led by commercial investment, which was also up in seven other provinces.

Investment in Alberta recorded the largest decline, as a result of lower spending in the institutional component.

Locally, investment rose in 16 of 34 census metropolitan areas. The largest increases occurred in Toronto, Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo and St. Catherines–Niagara. Rising commercial investment led the gains in Toronto and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo, while institutional investment was the main contributor in St. Catherines–Niagara.

The largest decline occurred in Calgary, where spending fell in both the institutional and commercial components.

Commercial component

Investors spent $6.2 billion on commercial projects, up 2.4% from the fourth quarter of 2010 and the fifth consecutive quarterly gain.

Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data expressed in current dollars, which ease comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations.

Investments in non-residential building construction exclude engineering construction. This series is based on the Building Permits Survey of municipalities, which collects information on construction intentions.

Work put-in-place patterns are assigned to each type of structure (industrial, commercial and institutional). These work patterns are used to distribute the value of building permits according to project length. Work put-in-place patterns differ according to the value of the construction project; a project worth several million dollars will usually take longer to complete than will a project of a few hundred thousand dollars.

Additional data from the Capital and Repair Expenditures Survey are used to create this investment series. Investments in non-residential building data are benchmarked to Statistics Canada's System of National Accounts of non-residential building investment series.

For the purpose of this release, the census metropolitan area of Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario/Quebec) is divided into two areas: the Ottawa part and the Gatineau part.

Commercial investment rose in nine provinces. The largest gain occurred in Ontario, where investment increased 3.2% to $2.6 billion, while in Quebec commercial investment rose 3.5% and remained at $1.0 billion. In both provinces, the gain was led by higher spending in the construction of office buildings. Ontario also recorded higher investment in laboratory and research centres.

In contrast, British Columbia recorded a decline, mostly the result of lower spending on recreational and office buildings.

Commercial, institutional and industrial components

Industrial component

Investment in industrial projects totalled $1.2 billion in the first quarter, up 5.3% from the previous quarter and the fourth consecutive quarterly gain.

The first-quarter increase was attributable to higher investment in the construction of manufacturing and mining facilities in seven provinces, as well as higher spending on maintenance buildings in Alberta.

Provincially, the most substantial contributions to the quarterly increase came from Alberta, where investment rose 15.0% to $275 million, and from Ontario, where it advanced 2.9% to $471 million.

Industrial investment in Quebec rose 4.1% to $251 million. Gains in Central Canada were mostly a result of higher investment in manufacturing plants, while increased investment in Alberta was mostly in maintenance facilities.

First-quarter declines in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and British Columbia were spread among several industrial building categories.

Institutional component

Spending in the institutional component fell 2.2% to $3.3 billion, the fifth consecutive quarterly decline nationally.

The biggest contributing factor to the decline in the first quarter was lower spending in the construction of educational and health care facilities in Alberta.

Institutional spending was up in six provinces. The largest increases were in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, where higher investment occurred in several institutional buildings categories.

Available on CANSIM: table 026-0016.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 5014.

More detailed data on investment in non-residential building construction are also available in free tables online from the Key resource module of our website under Summary tables.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Don Overton (613-951-1239;, Investment and Capital Stock Division.