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Building permits, February 2014

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Released: 2014-04-08

Municipalities issued building permits worth $6.1 billion in February, down 11.6% from January. This decrease followed an 8.1% gain the previous month and was mainly driven by lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in all provinces.

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

Construction intentions for residential buildings declined 21.0% to $3.6 billion, following a 26.1% increase the previous month. This was the third decline in four months. Lower residential construction intentions were recorded in every province, except Prince Edward Island. Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia registered the largest decreases.

In the non-residential sector, the value of building permits rose 6.6% to $2.5 billion in February, following a 15.4% decrease the previous month. Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec were responsible for most of the growth at the national level, while declines were recorded in Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

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

The value of building permits for multi-family dwellings decreased 31.5% to $1.5 billion in February, the third decline in four months. Declines were reported in all provinces, with Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta posting the largest decreases.

Construction intentions for single-family dwellings fell 12.0% to $2.2 billion in February, following a 14.0% increase in January. Construction intentions fell in six provinces, with Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia accounting for most of the decline at the national level.

Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 14,011 new dwellings in February, down 23.8% from January. The decrease in February was the result of a 29.3% decline in multi-family dwellings to 8,289 units and a 14.3% decline in single-family dwellings to 5,722 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: Gains in the institutional and industrial components

Canadian municipalities issued $673 million worth of institutional building permits in February, up 14.9% from January. Gains in four provinces, led by Ontario, more than offset declines in the remaining provinces. The increase in Ontario came mainly from medical facilities. Alberta registered the largest decrease as a result of lower construction intentions for medical facilities, educational institutions and government buildings.

In the industrial component, the value of permits rose 26.8% to $348 million in February, following a 44.5% decrease in the previous month. This increase was the result of higher construction intentions for mining and primary industry buildings in Quebec, as well as manufacturing plants in Alberta and Quebec. Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia posted the largest decreases.

Following a 14.5% advance in January, Canadian municipalities issued $1.5 billion worth of commercial building permits in February, down 0.3% from the previous month. The decrease came from a variety of commercial buildings, including hotels and restaurants as well as service stations. Declines in four provinces, led by Ontario and Manitoba, offset increases in the other provinces. British Columbia recorded the largest gain, followed by New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Provinces: Large declines in Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia

The value of permits was down in seven provinces in February. The largest decrease occurred in Alberta and was mainly the result of lower construction intentions for residential and institutional buildings. In Quebec, the monthly decrease was attributable to multi-family dwellings, while lower construction intentions for residential and institutional buildings were the reason for the decline in British Columbia.

The largest increase occurred in Ontario, where institutional building intentions were responsible for the growth. Prince Edward Island was a distant second, followed by New Brunswick. Institutional building and single-family construction intentions contributed to the advance in Prince Edward Island, while commercial buildings and single-family dwellings were responsible for the gain in New Brunswick.

Lower construction intentions in more than half of the census metropolitan areas

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

The largest decrease was in Toronto, followed by Edmonton and Montréal. In Toronto, the decrease was principally attributable to residential buildings and, to a lesser extent, commercial buildings. Lower intentions in all components explained the decline in Edmonton. In Montréal, multi-family dwellings were behind most of the decrease.

Kingston recorded the largest increase in February, followed by Ottawa. The value of permits issued in Kingston rose largely as a result of higher construction intentions for institutional buildings, while in Ottawa, multi-family dwellings and, to a lesser extent, institutional buildings were responsible for the increase.

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

The March building permits data will be released on May 7.

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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