Building permits, November 2012

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Municipalities issued building permits worth $6.2 billion in November, down 17.9% from October and the lowest level since January 2012. This follows a 15.9% increase in October.

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

Chart description: Total value of permits

CSV version of chart 1

The decrease was primarily the result of lower construction intentions in both the non-residential and residential sectors in Ontario.

Between January and November 2012, contractors took out permits worth $74.5 billion, 11.0% higher than in the same period in 2011.

Total permits value for the first 11 months of 2012 also surpassed the pre-recession peak of $74.4 billion for the entire year of 2007.

Construction intentions in the non-residential sector fell 30.6% to $2.4 billion, following a 53.6% increase the previous month. Ontario and Quebec were responsible for most of the decline. Construction intentions rose in Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.

In the residential sector, the value of permits declined 6.8% to $3.8 billion in November, following a 4.4% decline the previous month. Ontario had the largest decline, with Nova Scotia a distant second. The decline in Ontario more than offset increases in the western provinces and in Quebec.

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

Construction intentions in the industrial component fell 60.7% to $427 million in November after surpassing the $1-billion mark in October when the value of permits more than tripled (+217.9%).

The decrease in November was largely the result of lower construction intentions for manufacturing plants, transportation-related buildings and utilities buildings. Construction intentions for industrial buildings were down in every province except Manitoba and New Brunswick.

Following a 74.8% gain in October, the value of permits in the institutional component declined 49.1% to $515 million in November. The decrease was largely attributable to lower construction intentions for medical facilities in Ontario and for educational institutions in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

In the commercial component, the value of permits grew 5.9% to $1.5 billion in November, following a 3.4% increase the previous month.

The advance in November came from a variety of buildings, including office buildings, retail and wholesale outlets, hotels and restaurants, recreational facilities, warehouses and retail complexes. Commercial building construction intentions increased in four provinces, led by Ontario. Quebec and British Columbia had the largest decreases.

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

Chart description: Residential and non-residential sectors

CSV version of chart 2

Residential sector: Lower construction intentions for multi-family and single-family dwellings

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings fell 10.8% to $1.5 billion in November. It was the fifth consecutive monthly decrease. The decline was principally attributable to lower construction intentions in Ontario, which more than offset gains in six provinces led by British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec.

Municipalities issued $2.2 billion worth of building permits for single-family dwellings in November, down 4.0% from October and the third decrease in four months. Lower intentions in Ontario more than offset gains in six provinces led by Alberta, Manitoba and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia.

Municipalities approved the construction of 16,627 new dwellings in November, down 9.6% from October.

The decrease was largely the result of a 13.7% decline in multi-family units to 9,989. The number of permits issued for single-family dwellings fell 2.7% to 6,638 units.

Provinces: Ontario posts largest decline

Construction intentions fell in seven provinces in November. Ontario posted the largest decline, followed by Quebec and Saskatchewan.

In Ontario, the decline followed a 38.4% increase in October. The drop was a result of lower construction intentions for institutional buildings, residential dwellings and industrial buildings. Ontario had posted large increases in the institutional and industrial components in October, while residential building construction intentions declined 30.0% in November to their lowest level since February 2011.

A 9.3% decline in Quebec was attributable to lower construction intentions for industrial and commercial buildings. In Saskatchewan, the value of permits for non-residential buildings was behind the decline.

The largest increase occurred in Manitoba, where all components except institutional buildings advanced. Alberta and Prince Edward Island also registered gains.

Most census metropolitan areas post declines

The value of permits fell in 19 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

Toronto, Hamilton and Québec recorded the largest decreases. Toronto reported declines in every component, except commercial buildings. Hamilton's drop stemmed from institutional buildings and multi-family dwellings, both of which had increased the previous month. In Québec, the decrease came particularly from lower construction intentions for commercial buildings.

The largest increases occurred in Winnipeg, Vancouver and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo. In Winnipeg, the gain originated from higher construction intentions for industrial buildings and residential dwellings.

Vancouver's advance came mainly from multi-family dwellings and institutional buildings. Both the residential and non-residential sectors were behind the increase in Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo.

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 for the entire population.

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

The December building permits data will be released on February 7.

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jason Aston (613-951-0746), Investment, Science and Technology Division.