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Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, April 2018

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Released: 2018-06-15

Manufacturing sales fell 1.3% to $56.2 billion in April, following two consecutive monthly increases.

Sales were down in 10 of 21 industries, representing 49.6% of the manufacturing sector. Sales in the petroleum and coal products and transportation equipment industries accounted for much of the decrease in April. Excluding these two industries, manufacturing sales rose 0.4%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Manufacturing sales decline
Manufacturing sales decline

In constant dollars, manufacturing sales in volumes declined 1.9%.

The petroleum and coal products and transportation equipment industries post the largest declines

In April, sales in the petroleum and coal products industry fell 10.9% to $5.2 billion, a third consecutive monthly decline. The decrease in April was entirely due to lower sales volumes, as prices for the industry rose 4.5%, according to the Industrial Product Price Index. Partial shutdowns at a number of Canadian refineries for maintenance work during the month were a major contributor to the decline in volumes sold (-13.2%).

Sales of transportation equipment fell 2.3% to $10.9 billion in April, largely due to weaker sales of other transportation equipment (-55.8%) and lower production of aerospace products and parts (-6.4%).

In April, sales were up in 11 industries, with the largest increases in the primary metal manufacturing (+3.8%) and food products (+1.9%) industries.

Sales down in six provinces

In April, sales were down in six provinces, led by Quebec and Alberta.

Following two months of increases, sales in Quebec fell 3.4% to $13.3 billion, mostly as a result of lower sales of petroleum and coal products. Decreases in the aerospace product and parts industry and the machinery industry also contributed to the provincial decline.

In Alberta, sales were down 5.3%, following a 0.5% increase in March. The decline was largely attributable to a 20.5% decrease in sales of petroleum and coal products, which resulted in part from partial shutdowns for maintenance work at some of the province's refineries.

Saskatchewan posted the largest monthly increase in April, with sales rising 6.7% to $1.5 billion. This second consecutive monthly increase was driven by higher sales of non-durable goods.

Inventory levels rise

Inventory levels rose 2.2% in April to $81.2 billion, a seventh consecutive monthly increase. The largest inventory increase occurred in the petroleum and coal products industry (+6.6%). Inventory levels also rose in the transportation equipment (+2.2%), machinery (+3.7%) and food products (+2.9%) industries.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Inventory levels increase
Inventory levels increase

The inventory-to-sales ratio rose from 1.40 in March to 1.44 in April. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Chart 3  Chart 3: The inventory-to-sales ratio increases
The inventory-to-sales ratio increases

Unfilled orders increase

In April, unfilled orders increased 1.3% to $90.0 billion, a third consecutive monthly increase. Most of the gain came from a 1.8% increase in the aerospace product and parts industry. Unfilled orders were also up in the fabricated metal products industry.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unfilled orders increase
Unfilled orders increase

New orders fell 1.6% to $57.4 billion in April. This decline was mainly the result of lower new orders in the petroleum and coal products and in the aerospace product and parts industries.

  Note to readers

Monthly data in this release are seasonally adjusted and are expressed in current dollars unless otherwise specified.

For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions. For information on trend-cycle data, see Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Non-durable goods industries include food, beverage and tobacco products, textile mills, textile product mills, clothing, leather and allied products, paper, printing and related support activities, petroleum and coal products, chemicals, and plastics and rubber products.

Durable goods industries include wood products, non-metallic mineral products, primary metals, fabricated metal products, machinery, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, transportation equipment, furniture and related products, and miscellaneous manufacturing.

Production-based industries

For the aerospace and shipbuilding industries, the value of production is used instead of the value of sales of goods manufactured. The value of production is calculated by adjusting monthly sales of goods manufactured by the monthly change in inventories of goods in process and finished products manufactured. The value of production is used because of the extended period of time that it normally takes to manufacture products in these industries.

Unfilled orders are a stock of orders that will contribute to future sales assuming that the orders are not cancelled.

New orders are those received, whether sold in the current month or not. New orders are measured as the sum of sales for the current month plus the change in unfilled orders from the previous month to the current month.

Manufacturers reporting in US dollars

Some Canadian manufacturers report sales, inventories and unfilled orders in US dollars. These data are then converted to Canadian dollars as part of the data production cycle.

For sales, based on the assumption that they occur throughout the month, the average monthly exchange rate for the reference month (noon spot rate) established by the Bank of Canada is used for the conversion. The monthly average exchange rate is available in table 33-10-0163-01. Inventories and unfilled orders are reported at the end of the reference period. For most respondents, the noon spot exchange rate on the last working day of the month is used for the conversion of these variables.

However, some manufacturers choose to report their data as of a day other than the last day of the month. In these instances, the noon spot exchange rate on the day selected by the respondent is used. Note that because of exchange rate fluctuations, the noon spot exchange rate on the day selected by the respondent can differ from both the exchange rate on the last working day of the month and the monthly average exchange rate. Noon spot exchange rate data are available in table 33-10-0036-01.

Revision policy

Each month, the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing releases preliminary data for the reference month and revised data for the three previous months. Revisions are made to reflect new information provided by respondents and updates to administrative data.

Real-time data tables

Real-time data tables 16-10-0118-01, 16-10-0119-01 and 16-10-0014-01 will be updated on June 25.

Next release

Data from the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing for May will be released on July 17.

Contact information

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

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Bechir Oueriemmi (613-951-7938;, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.

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