Investment in non-residential building construction, first quarter 2012

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Investment in non-residential building construction in the first quarter was up 0.7% to $11.1 billion from the previous quarter. This gain followed two consecutive quarters of decline and reflected rising investment in the commercial and industrial components.

Chart 1 
Investment in non-residential building construction
Chart 1: Investment in non-residential building construction

Chart description: Investment in non-residential building construction

CSV version of the chart

Investment rose in seven provinces in the first quarter. The largest increases occurred in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, followed by Quebec and Alberta.

Gains in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were led by increases in commercial and institutional investment, while increases in Quebec and Alberta occurred in commercial and industrial spending.

Investment declined in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. Institutional investment decreased in all three provinces, while investment was down in all three components in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Investment rose in 12 of the 34 census metropolitan areas (CMAs). The largest gains occurred in several of the largest CMAs, including Toronto, Montréal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Saskatoon. Higher commercial investment was the leading contributor to the increases in all five CMAs. Institutional investment was also an important factor in Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.

The largest decreases were in Hamilton and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo. Investment fell in all three components in both CMAs.

Commercial component

Investment in commercial building construction was up 1.6% to $6.7 billion in the first quarter from the previous quarter. It was the second consecutive quarter of growth. In the seven provinces posting increases, gains were spread among several categories of commercial buildings.

The largest contribution in the commercial component came from Alberta, where investment rose 2.0% to $1.6 billion, the eighth consecutive quarterly gain. The increase mostly resulted from rising investment in storage facilities and office buildings.

Investment in Manitoba increased 24.1% to $156 million, mostly attributable to higher spending for recreational and office buildings.

The largest decline was in New Brunswick, where commercial investment fell 9.5% to $76 million. Most of the decline was from lower investment in retail and wholesale outlets and storage facilities.

Chart 2 
Commercial, institutional and industrial components
Chart 2: Commercial, institutional and industrial components

Chart description: Commercial, institutional and industrial components

CSV version of the chart

Industrial component

Investment in industrial projects increased 2.8% to $1.3 billion in the first quarter, the second consecutive quarterly gain. Growth in this component was mainly from the construction of manufacturing plants in six provinces, as well as utilities buildings in four provinces.

Provincially, the highest increase was in Alberta, where investment rose 7.2% to $305 million. Most of the increase was attributable to utility buildings.

In British Columbia, investment was up 10.0% to $114 million, the eighth consecutive quarterly gain. The biggest contributor to the increase was higher spending for manufacturing plants and utility buildings.

The largest decline was in Newfoundland and Labrador, where investment fell 24.2% to $17 million, following six consecutive quarterly increases. The biggest contributing factor to the decrease was lower investment in utility buildings and manufacturing plants.

Institutional component

Institutional investment was down for the eighth consecutive quarter as spending fell 2.0% to $3.2 billion.

Institutional investment fell in seven provinces. The largest decline occurred in Alberta, where it decreased 10.6% to $294 million. The biggest contributing factor was lower investment in educational buildings, where spending has been declining for seven consecutive quarters.

In British Columbia, institutional investment fell 5.6% to $371 million. The decline came from lower investment in educational buildings and health care facilities.

In contrast, Manitoba recorded the largest increase in the first quarter as investment rose 16.4% to $107 million, mostly from higher investment in health care facilities. It was the seventh consecutive quarterly advance in Manitoba.

Note to readers

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

Investments in non-residential building construction exclude engineering construction (such as for highways, sewers, bridges and oil and gas pipelines). 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.

Available without charge in CANSIM: table CANSIM table026-0016.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number5014.

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, choose Summary tables.

For more information, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Don Overton (613-951-1239), Investment, Science and Technology Division.