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Building permits, March 2018

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Released: 2018-05-09

Building permits — Canada

$8.4 billion

March 2018

3.1% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.L.

$33.1 million

March 2018

-38.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — P.E.I.

$20.0 million

March 2018

-27.9% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.S.

$99.6 million

March 2018

-1.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.B.

$83.1 million

March 2018

16.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Que.

$1,785.9 million

March 2018

21.7% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Ont.

$2,876.2 million

March 2018

-12.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Man.

$240.3 million

March 2018

-11.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Sask.

$156.9 million

March 2018

22.1% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Alta.

$1,309.5 million

March 2018

1.8% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — B.C.

$1,769.3 million

March 2018

22.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Y.T.

$7.7 million

March 2018

165.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.W.T.

$8.4 million

March 2018

113.9% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Nvt.

$9.9 million

March 2018

97.2% increase

(monthly change)

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities increased 3.1% to $8.4 billion in March, following a 2.8% decline in February. The rise was mainly the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, particularly in Quebec and British Columbia, and, to a lesser extent, by the commercial component.

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

Chart 2  Chart 2: Value of building permits for residential and non-residential sectors
Value of building permits for residential and non-residential sectors

Residential sector: Rise in multi-family component offsets decline in single-family component

Municipalities issued $5.4 billion worth of residential building permits in March, up 2.3% from February. A notable increase in the multi-family component more than offset lower construction intentions for single-family dwellings. Although eight provinces reported declines in the residential sector in March, higher construction intentions in Quebec (+$373.8 million) and British Columbia (+$179.5 million) raised the national total.

The value of building permits for multi-family dwellings rose 12.2% to a record $3.0 billion in March. The increase was largely attributable to higher construction intentions for apartment buildings. Quebec and British Columbia registered the largest increases in the multi-family component, stemming from apartment buildings and, to a lesser extent, row houses.

Conversely, single-family construction intentions fell 7.9% to $2.4 billion in March, with Ontario posting the largest decline (-13.7% or -$153.1 million). The census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto posted the largest decrease in the single-family component, down 27.6% to $302.3 million and a second consecutive monthly decline.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Month-to-month change in value of residential building permits, March 2018
Month-to-month change in value of residential building permits, March 2018

Non-residential sector: Higher commercial construction intentions lead the sector's rise

The value of building permits for non-residential structures rose 4.5% to $3.0 billion in March, after a 6.4% decline in February. Higher construction intentions for commercial buildings led the increase, moderated by a decline in the institutional component. In March, six provinces registered increases in the value of non-residential permits, led by British Columbia—the only province to register gains in all three non-residential components.

Construction intentions for commercial structures rose 10.0% to $1.7 billion in March. British Columbia (+59.3%) posted the largest increase, the result of increased activity in office buildings.

The value of building permits issued for industrial structures rose 11.6% to $666.5 million in March, largely the result of primary industry buildings, which includes farm buildings and greenhouses.

The institutional component fell 12.7% to $647.7 million in March, led by Quebec and Alberta. Nationally, lower construction intentions for hospitals contributed to the decline.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Month-to-month change in value of non-residential building permits, March 2018
Month-to-month change in value of non-residential building permits, March 2018

First quarter: The value of multi-family dwellings leads the rise

Canadian municipalities issued $24.9 billion worth of building permits in the first quarter of 2018, up 3.3% compared with the fourth quarter of 2017.

Construction intentions for residential dwellings led the national increase, rising 6.9% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to $15.9 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The 18.4% increase of the multi-family component more than offset a 3.5% decline in the single-family component.

On the other hand, the value of non-residential building permits fell 2.6% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to $9.0 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The drop was the result of lower activity in both the industrial and institutional components.

  Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates month-to-month 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 Ottawa part and the Gatineau part.

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

Building components

Single-family dwellings: Residential buildings containing only one dwelling unit (for example, single-detached house, bungalow, linked home (linked at the foundation)).

Multi-family dwellings: Residential buildings containing multiple dwelling units (for example, apartment, apartment condominium, row house, semi-detached).

Industrial buildings: Buildings used in the transformation of goods or related to transportation and communication.

Commercial buildings: Buildings used in trade or distribution of goods and services.

Institutional and government buildings: Buildings used to house public and semi-public services such as those related to health and welfare, education, or public administration, as well as buildings used for religious services.


Data for the current reference month are subject to revision based on late responses. Seasonally adjusted data for the previous two months have been revised. Non-seasonally adjusted data have been revised for the previous month only.

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 on building permits for April will be released on June 6.

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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