Building permits, August 2012

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Related subjects

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

PDF version

Previous release

Contractors took out building permits worth $7.3 billion in August, a 7.9% increase, following a 2.8% decline in July. The increase in August originated from higher construction intentions in the non-residential sector, which more than offset a decrease in the residential sector.

Chart 1 
Total value of permits
Chart 1: Total value of permits

Chart description: Total value of permits

CSV version of the chart

The value of permits in the non-residential sector increased 25.2% from July to $3.2 billion, the highest level in almost four years. The increase followed two consecutive monthly declines and was the result of higher construction intentions in seven provinces, led by Ontario.

In the residential sector, the value of permits fell 2.3% from July to $4.2 billion. This was the second consecutive monthly decline. The decrease was mainly attributable to lower construction intentions in British Columbia and Ontario. Declines were also posted in three other provinces. The largest gains were in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Non-residential sector: Increases in the institutional and industrial components

The value of permits in the institutional component more than doubled in August to $1.1 billion, the highest level since March 2011. This increase followed two consecutive monthly declines. Construction intentions for institutional buildings rose in eight provinces. Ontario, which posted the largest gain, reported higher construction intentions for medical facilities, educational institutions and nursing homes.

In the industrial component, the value of permits increased for the third consecutive month, rising 26.2% to $638 million. The advance was primarily the result of higher construction intentions for utilities buildings and manufacturing plants in Ontario. Construction intentions also rose in five other provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.

Municipalities issued $1.5 billion worth of permits for commercial buildings, down 8.5% following two months of growth. The drop was attributable to lower construction intentions for a variety of commercial buildings in seven provinces, including retail outlets, office buildings, recreational facilities and university residences.

Chart 2 
Residential and non-residential sectors
Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors

Chart description: Residential and non-residential sectors

CSV version of the chart

Residential sector: Declines in both multi-family and single-family dwellings

The value of permits for single-family dwellings declined 2.3% to $2.4 billion, the second straight monthly decrease. The decline was the result of lower construction intentions in six provinces, with Ontario posting the largest decline followed by British Columbia.

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings fell for a second consecutive month, declining 2.3% to $1.8 billion. Of the five provinces that registered decreases, the largest occurred in British Columbia and Ontario. Strong gains in Alberta and Saskatchewan failed to offset these decreases.

Municipalities across Canada issued permits for the construction of 18,655 new dwellings, down 1.8% from July. The decline was attributable to both single-family dwellings, which declined 2.0% to 7,111 units and multi-family dwellings, which fell 1.8% to 11,544 units.

Increases in most provinces

The value of building permits increased in six provinces in August, with Ontario and Alberta posting the largest gains.

Ontario registered the largest advance as a result of higher construction intentions for institutional and industrial buildings. In Alberta, the gain came from multi-family dwellings, institutional and commercial buildings.

In Saskatchewan, the increase was attributable to both residential and non-residential buildings, while in Quebec, institutional buildings explained most of the growth.

British Columbia posted the largest decline, a result of lower construction intentions for residential and commercial buildings. Nova Scotia's drop came mostly from commercial and multi-family dwellings. Manitoba and Prince Edward Island also recorded decreases.

Most census metropolitan areas post gains

In August, the total value of permits rose in 21 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

The largest increases occurred in Hamilton, Edmonton and Calgary. In Hamilton, the gain was the result of higher construction intentions for industrial and institutional buildings as well as multi-family dwellings.

In Edmonton, the advance was primarily attributable to commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings. In Calgary, the increase was the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and, to a lesser extent, institutional buildings.

Vancouver and Montréal registered the largest declines; both had posted the largest increases in July. In Vancouver, the decrease was attributable to multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings, while in Montréal, it was attributable to multi-family dwellings.

Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

The Building Permits Survey covers 2,400 municipalities representing 95% of the population. It provides an early indication of building activity.

The communities representing the other 5% of the population are very small, and their levels of building activity have little impact on the total.

The value of planned construction activities shown in this release excludes engineering projects (for example, waterworks, sewers or culverts) and land.

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


Data for the current reference month are subject to revision based on late responses. Data have been revised for the previous month.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table026-0001 to 026-0008 and CANSIM table026-0010.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number2802.

The August 2012 issue of Building Permits (Catalogue number64-001-X, free) will soon be available.

The September building permits data will be released on November 5.

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 Jason Aston (613-951-0746), Investment, Science and Technology Division.