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Building permits, June 2013

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Released: 2013-08-07

Contractors took out building permits worth $6.6 billion in June, down 10.3% from May and the first decrease in six months. Despite this decline, the total value of building permits continued to trend upward.

The decrease in June came mainly from the non-residential sector in Quebec and the residential sector in Ontario.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table
Total value of permits

Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table

After three consecutive monthly increases, the total value of permits in the residential sector declined 12.9% to $4.0 billion in June. The value of residential building permits was down in nine provinces, led largely by Ontario, followed by Quebec and Alberta. Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories showed the only gains in June.

In the non-residential sector, the total value of building permits decreased 6.1% to $2.7 billion in June. Quebec, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island accounted for most of the decline. Gains were recorded in five provinces, led by Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick.

Residential sector: Construction intentions down for both multi-family and single-family dwellings

Building permits for multi-family dwellings fell 18.8% to $1.8 billion in June, following three consecutive monthly gains. Lower construction intentions for apartments and apartments-condominium projects in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia contributed to the decline in June. Decreases were registered in nine provinces, with Ontario posting the largest decline, followed by Quebec.

Construction intentions for single-family dwellings decreased 7.4% to $2.2 billion in June, following two consecutive monthly increases. Lower construction intentions were posted in seven provinces with Ontario, Alberta and Quebec accounting for most of the national decline.

Canadian municipalities authorized the construction of 17,656 new dwellings in June, down 12.2% from May. The decline was attributable to both multi-family dwellings, which fell 16.0% to 11,541 units, and single-family dwellings, which decreased 4.1% to 6,115 units.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table
Residential and non-residential sectors

Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table

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

Canadian municipalities issued $1.4 billion worth of commercial building permits in June, down 9.5% from May. The decline was the result of lower construction intentions in a variety of commercial buildings, including retail complexes and office buildings. Decreases were posted in six provinces, led by Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan. In contrast, British Columbia posted the largest gain, as a result of higher construction intentions for office buildings and service stations.

After advancing by over 40% in May, the total value of industrial permits fell 21.5% to $493 million in June. Although gains were posted in six provinces, they failed to offset declines in the other four. The decrease was mainly the result of lower construction intentions for manufacturing plants in Quebec and British Columbia, and for utilities buildings in Ontario.

In the institutional component, the value of permits increased 14.6% to $820 million in June, the first increase in three months. The value of institutional building permits was up in four provinces. Ontario and Alberta accounted for much of the gain as a result of higher construction intentions for long-term care facilities and educational buildings in Ontario as well as medical facilities in Alberta.

Provinces: Large declines in Quebec and Ontario

The value of permits was down in seven provinces in June, led by Quebec and Ontario.

The largest decrease occurred in Quebec and was mainly a result of lower construction intentions for commercial buildings, multi-family dwellings and industrial buildings. In Ontario, the monthly decrease was attributable to residential dwellings and, to a lesser extent, commercial buildings.

Manitoba followed a distant third, as a result of lower construction intentions for institutional buildings and multi-family dwellings.

The largest increase occurred in British Columbia, where an advance in commercial building intentions offset decreases in the industrial and institutional components. In New Brunswick, commercial construction intentions largely contributed to the advance.

Significant decrease in construction intentions in Toronto and Montréal

In June, the total value of permits was down in 20 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

The largest decreases were in Toronto and Montréal, with Québec a distant third. In Toronto, the decrease was principally attributable to multi-family dwellings. Lower intentions for commercial and industrial buildings explained the decline in Montréal. In Québec, institutional and commercial construction intentions and, to a lesser degree, residential dwellings were behind the decrease.

Calgary saw the largest increase in June, followed by Vancouver and Thunder Bay. Following a 41.0% decline in May, the value of permits issued in Calgary advanced largely as a result of higher construction intentions for commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings. In Vancouver, commercial buildings were responsible for the advance, while in Thunder Bay institutional buildings were responsible for the gain.

  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.

The trend-cycle estimates have been added to the charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. Both the seasonally adjusted and the trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be large and even lead to a reversal of movement, especially at the end of the series. The higher variability associated with the trend-cycle estimates is indicated with a dotted line on the chart.

The June 2013 issue of Building Permits (Catalogue number64-001-X) will soon be available.

Building permits data for July will be released on September 9.

Contact information

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

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