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Building permits, January 2017

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Released: 2017-03-08

Building permits — Canada

$7.6 billion

January 2017

5.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.L.

$43.1 million

January 2017

-19.7% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — P.E.I.

$15.1 million

January 2017

15.9% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.S.

$144.8 million

January 2017

89.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.B.

$100.2 million

January 2017

71.9% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Que.

$1,236.4 million

January 2017

-1.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Ont.

$3,274.4 million

January 2017

-8.6% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Man.

$290.1 million

January 2017

48.7% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Sask.

$134.6 million

January 2017

-5.8% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Alta.

$1,215.8 million

January 2017

45.9% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — B.C.

$1,153.2 million

January 2017

19.5% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Y.T.

$4.2 million

January 2017

-91.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.W.T.

$3.6 million

January 2017

117.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Nvt.

$0.0 million

January 2017

-99.9% decrease

(monthly change)

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities rose 5.4% to $7.6 billion in January, following two consecutive monthly decreases. Six provinces posted increases, led by Alberta and British Columbia. Nationally, construction intentions rose in every component, particularly institutional buildings.

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

Non-residential sector: Gains in every component, led by institutional structures

Construction intentions in the non-residential sector rose 11.2% to $2.5 billion in January, following a 10.3% decline in December. Every component increased, led by institutional buildings. Growth was registered in six provinces, with Alberta contributing the most to the gain. British Columbia was a distant second.

The value of building permits issued for institutional structures rose 19.0% to $732 million in January, the second increase in six months. The gain was mainly attributable to six provinces, led by Alberta, moderated by declines in Yukon and Ontario.

In January, the commercial component was up 6.8% to $1.4 billion, following two consecutive monthly declines. Gains were registered in seven provinces, most notably Alberta and British Columbia.

The industrial component increased 14.1% in January to $422 million, the result of higher construction intentions in five provinces, particularly Ontario.

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

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

In the residential sector, municipalities issued $5.1 billion worth of building permits in January, a 2.7% increase from the previous month. This marks the third time in four months where residential construction intentions exceeded $5.0 billion. Both multi-family and single-family dwellings posted gains in January. A large drop in Ontario was not sufficient to offset the gains in seven provinces, led by Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.

Following two consecutive monthly declines, construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 3.6% to $2.3 billion in January. Manitoba led the increase, followed by Alberta and British Columbia. The value of multi-family dwelling permits fell in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Single-family construction intentions increased 1.9% in January to $2.8 billion. This marked the second-highest value on record for this component, and a fourth consecutive month exceeding $2.7 billion. Intentions were up in seven provinces, led by Alberta and British Columbia.

In January, municipalities approved the construction of 19,207 new dwellings (-3.1%), consisting of 12,148 multi-family units (-5.2%) and 7,059 single units (+0.8%).

Provinces: Increases in Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba moderated by declines in Ontario

The total value of building permits rose in six provinces in January. Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba posted the largest increases. Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick all registered higher construction intentions in every component.

In Alberta, the gain followed two consecutive monthly declines and mainly originated from institutional structures and single-family dwellings.

In British Columbia, higher intentions for residential buildings and commercial structures led the advance.

Manitoba posted a second consecutive monthly increase, largely attributable to record high intentions for multi-family dwellings, especially apartment-condominiums.

Conversely, the value of building permits issued in Ontario fell in January after three consecutive monthly increases. However, this was the seventh consecutive month where construction intentions in Ontario exceeded $3.0 billion. Lower construction intentions for residential buildings, particularly single-family dwellings, contributed the most to the decline.

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

In the 60 years since current record keeping began, there have been three sustained periods when the number of new single-family home construction intentions exceeded 100,000 units a year.

The number of building permits for new single-family homes topped the 100,000 mark in Canada for the first time in 1973 and would continue to do so for the remainder of the decade. From 1973 to 1979, 771,379 permits for new single-family dwellings were issued in Canada.

Mortgage lending rates began falling sharply following the 1981-1982 recession, which drove up demand for single-family homes as more people were able to afford them. Canadian municipalities issued 507,512 building permits for new single-family dwellings from 1986 to 1989. Construction intentions for new single-family homes reached a still record 132,380 permits in 1987.

In 2002, new single-family home construction intentions exceeded the 100,000 mark for the first time since 1989. The boom would continue until the recession of 2008-2009 and over the course of six years (2002 to 2007), 732,459 new single-family home building permits were issued.

Since 2010, an average of about 78,500 permits a year have been issued for new single-family homes in Canada.

More than half of the census metropolitan areas register gains

Among the 36 census metropolitan areas in Canada (see note to readers), 20 posted increases in the value of building permits issued in January. Edmonton posted the largest advance, followed by Hamilton.

In Edmonton, institutional structures were largely responsible for the gain in January, up $129 million from the previous month. This was the second-highest value on record for institutional building permits in Edmonton.

The advance in Hamilton stemmed from higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings.

In contrast, Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo and Oshawa registered the largest declines in the value of building permits among the census metropolitan areas in January, after both posted notable gains in December. The decreases were mainly attributable to lower construction intentions for residential buildings.

  Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitate comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The Building Permits Survey covers over 2,400 municipalities, representing 95% of the Canadian 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 presented in this release excludes engineering projects (such as waterworks, sewers or culverts) and land.

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

Two new census metropolitan areas (CMAs) have been added: Belleville, Ontario, and Lethbridge, Alberta. They have been excluded from the CMA analysis since there was no data available at this level prior to this release. They will be included in future releases.

Unless otherwise specified, the highlights refer to seasonally adjusted current dollars and are ranked in terms of dollar change rather than percentage change.


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

With this release, revised monthly seasonally adjusted data for the six previous years are released at the same time as the annual revision to the unadjusted data of 2016.

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.

For information on trend-cycle data, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Next release

Data for February on building permits will be released on April 6.


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

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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