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Building permits, January 2014

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Released: 2014-03-06

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities rose 8.5% to $7.0 billion in January, following a 4.8% decrease in December. The increase in January came from higher construction intentions in the residential sector, which more than offset a decline in the non-residential sector.

Gains were posted in every province in January, except Quebec. Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario registered the largest increases.

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 two consecutive monthly decreases, construction intentions for residential dwellings rose 26.3% to $4.6 billion. All 10 provinces posted gains, led by Quebec, Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 14.6% to $2.4 billion, following a 5.4% increase in December. Decreases in Quebec and, to a much lesser extent, New Brunswick offset the gains posted in the remaining provinces.

Residential sector: Significantly higher construction intentions for both multi-family and single-family dwellings

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 42.8% to $2.1 billion in January, following a 21.9% decrease in the previous month. Advances were posted in nine provinces, with Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia accounting for most of the gain. Saskatchewan was the only province to register a decrease.

The value of building permits for single-family dwellings increased 15.0% to $2.5 billion in January, the highest level since September 2012. The advance in January followed two consecutive monthly decreases. Gains were posted in seven provinces, led by Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.

Nationally, municipalities approved permits for the construction of 18,366 new dwellings, up 17.4% from December. This increase was attributable to multi-family dwellings, which rose 20.9% to 11,580 units, and single-family dwellings, which increased 11.8% to 6,786 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 institutional and industrial components

The value of non-residential building permits was down in January. An increase in construction intentions for commercial buildings was not enough to offset declines in the institutional and industrial components.

Construction intentions for institutional buildings fell 41.8% to $574 million, after a 182.9% increase the previous month. This decline was mainly attributable to medical facilities in Quebec. Increases posted in eight provinces were not enough to offset the declines in Quebec, which had recorded a significant advance in December.

The value of permits for industrial buildings decreased 24.7% to $373 million, following a 13.9% increase the previous month. Decreases were seen in six provinces, led by Ontario, where the decline was largely attributable to lower construction intentions for manufacturing plants.

In the commercial component, the value of permits increased 9.7% to $1.4 billion in January, following a 29.8% decrease in December. Hotel and restaurants in Ontario accounted for most of the advance. Increases were posted in five other provinces, led by Manitoba and British Columbia.

Most provinces post higher construction intentions

Alberta and British Columbia both posted large advances, mainly as a result of higher construction intentions for residential buildings. In Ontario, commercial and residential buildings were responsible for the increase.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan followed a distant fourth and fifth. Advances in both provinces were tied to higher construction intentions for single-family dwellings and commercial buildings.

Quebec was the only province to register declines, as a result of lower construction intentions for institutional buildings and, to a lesser degree, commercial and industrial buildings.

Higher construction intentions in most census metropolitan areas

Construction intentions were up in 23 of the 34 census metropolitan areas, led by Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton.

The largest gains were in Toronto, driven by higher construction intentions for commercial buildings and single-family dwellings. The increase in Vancouver came mainly from multi-family dwellings, while in Edmonton, residential, commercial and institutional buildings were responsible for the gain.

The largest declines occurred in Montréal, followed by Hamilton and Calgary. In Montréal, the decrease was principally attributable to institutional buildings. The decline in Hamilton was attributable to lower intentions for commercial and industrial buildings, while in Calgary the decrease resulted from commercial and institutional buildings.

  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. 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.

Building permits data are used as a leading indicator of activity in the construction industry.

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.

With this release, seasonal adjustment options were reviewed to take into account the most recent seasonal variation from the series. Revised monthly seasonally adjusted data for the three previous years are released at the same time as the annual revision to the unadjusted data of 2013.

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 January 2014 issue of Building Permits (Catalogue number64-001-X) will soon be available.

February building permits data will be released on April 8.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jeremie Bennett (613-951-0793), Investment, Science and Technology Division.

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