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Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, April 2019

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Released: 2019-06-18

Manufacturing sales declined 0.6% to $57.8 billion in April, following a 2.6% increase in March. The largest declines were in the transportation equipment and primary metal industries. Excluding transportation equipment, manufacturing sales rose 0.8%.

Sales were down in 8 of 21 industries, representing 36.1% of total Canadian manufacturing.

In volume terms, manufacturing sales were down 0.8%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Manufacturing sales
Manufacturing sales

Lower sales of transportation equipment

Sales of transportation equipment decreased 6.7% to $10.2 billion in April, the fourth decline in five months. All seven industries posted declines led by motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts. Motor vehicle manufacturing decreased 8.9% to $4.7 billion following a 6.2% gain in March. Temporary plant shutdowns and fewer units assembled were the main reasons behind the decline. Motor vehicle parts manufacturing was down 4.9% to $2.5 billion, as some respondents indicated lower sales due to assembly plant shutdowns.

Primary metal manufacturing sales were down 5.3% to $4.2 billion following a 7.0% gain in March. The decrease was largely due to lower volumes and unplanned maintenance at some facilities. The largest decline was in the iron and steel mills and ferro-alloy industries, where sales were down 14.4%

Food manufacturing sales were up 5.1% to $9.1 billion in April, primarily due to higher sales in the seafood, meat product, and grain and oilseed milling industries.

Sales of petroleum and coal products were up 2.9% to $6.5 billion, the fourth consecutive monthly gain. Since the beginning of 2019, sales in this industry have increased 25.7% compared with the December 2018 level. Volumes rose 16.1% over the first four months of 2019, while higher prices in this industry also contributed to the gain.

Sales decrease in five provinces

Sales were down in five provinces in April with the largest declines in Ontario and Quebec. Alberta and Saskatchewan reported the largest gains.

Sales in Ontario decreased 2.1% to $26.0 billion following a 2.2% gain in March. Motor vehicles (-8.7%), primary metals (-13.1%) and motor vehicle parts (-4.4%) were the main contributors to the provincial decline. These declines were somewhat moderated by a 6.2% increase in food manufacturing sales.

After two consecutive monthly increases, sales in Quebec fell 1.7% to $14.2 billion. Lower production of aerospace product and parts (-11.2%) and lower sales of machinery (-12.0%) were primarily responsible for the decline.

Sales in Alberta were up 4.6% to $6.9 billion in April following a 4.3% gain in March. The largest increases were reported in the petroleum and coal products (+5.5%), food (+7.0%), chemical (+8.1%) and machinery (+10.9%) industries.

In Saskatchewan, sales rose 6.5% following two monthly declines. Sales of non-durable goods were up 6.1% and durable goods increased 7.5%.

Total manufacturing sales in British Columbia increased 1.8% in April, on higher sales of non-durable goods (+5.3%).

Inventory levels rise

Total inventories increased for the fifth consecutive month, up 1.3% to $88.2 billion in April. There were increases in 17 of 21 industries, led by higher inventories of petroleum and coal products (+7.6%). Increases were also reported in the primary metals (+3.0%) and food (+1.4%) industries.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Inventory levels rise
Inventory levels rise

The inventory-to-sales ratio increased to 1.53 in April from 1.50 in March. This 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 decrease

In April, unfilled orders decreased 0.3% to $99.8 billion, following two consecutive monthly gains. The decline was mainly attributable to lower unfilled orders in the machinery industry and the other transportation equipment industry. The largest gain was observed in the aerospace product and parts industry.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unfilled orders decline
Unfilled orders decline

New orders declined 1.4% in April, primarily due to decreases in the transportation equipment and machinery industries.

Capacity utilization rate declines

The unadjusted capacity utilization rate for the manufacturing sector decreased from 81.5% in March to 79.5% in April. There were declines in 14 of 21 industries led by transportation equipment, primary metals and petroleum and coal products.

Chart 5  Chart 5: The capacity utilization rate decreases
The capacity utilization rate decreases

The capacity utilization rate for transportation equipment declined 5.8 percentage points to 79.1%, mostly attributable to lower production at motor vehicle assembly plants. Primary metals fell 3.5 percentage points to 74.1%, which reflected lower production and maintenance shutdowns. The rate for the petroleum and coal products industry declined 3.2%.

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

The Monthly Survey of Manufacturing is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping to measure the following goal:

  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 sales, inventories and unfilled orders 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 exchange rate for the reference month 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 daily average 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 daily average exchange rate on the day selected by the respondent is used. Note that because of exchange rate fluctuations, the daily average 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. Daily average 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.

Once a year, a revision project is undertaken to revise multiple years of data.

Real-time data tables

Real-time data tables 16-10-0118-01, 16-10-0119-01, 16-10-0014-01 and 16-10-0015-01 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;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Bechir Oueriemmi (613-951-7938; or Michael Schimpf (613-863-4480;, Mining, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.

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