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Building permits, April 2020

Released: 2020-05-27

Building permits — Canada

$6.0 billion

April 2020

-17.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.L.

$47.7 million

April 2020

186.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — P.E.I.

$3.7 million

April 2020

-88.2% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.S.

$103.7 million

April 2020

-43.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.B.

$63.1 million

April 2020

-15.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Que.

$868.0 million

April 2020

-34.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Ont.

$2,695.0 million

April 2020

-20.0% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Man.

$236.6 million

April 2020

-20.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Sask.

$86.2 million

April 2020

-36.0% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — Alta.

$799.7 million

April 2020

-9.9% decrease

(monthly change)

Building permits — B.C.

$1,130.0 million

April 2020

16.4% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — Y.T.

$10.2 million

April 2020

190.1% increase

(monthly change)

Building permits — N.W.T.


April 2020


(monthly change)

Building permits — Nvt.


April 2020


(monthly change)

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities plummeted 17.1% to $6.0 billion in April. The decrease in April was the largest decline since a similar drop in October 2008 during the financial crisis. When combined with the March decline, the value of building permits has fallen by 28.1% from February levels.

Declines were reported in eight provinces, with the largest in Quebec (-34.1%) and Ontario (-20.0%). Although most municipalities were still issuing permits in April, Quebec's decision to shut down non-essential construction activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to it posting its largest month-over-month percentage decline on record.

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

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

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: Building permits, April 2020
Building permits, April 2020

Record declines for single family permits

The total value of residential permits was down in nine provinces in April, falling 14.2% to $3.9 billion nationally.

Using comparable data available back to 2002, permits issued for single family dwellings fell 35.9% to $1.4 billion, a record month-over-month decline and almost double the next largest decrease. Prince Edward Island (-84.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-52.5%), Ontario (-50.8%), Manitoba (-37.1%) and Quebec (-29.4%) all recorded their largest month-over-month percentage declines in the current series.

Multi-family dwellings was the only component to show an increase at the national level in April, up 4.8% to $2.6 billion. Increased building intentions in the census metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa led to gains in British Columbia (+66.8%) and Ontario (+13.9%), which more than offset declines in six provinces. The gains in British Columbia returned the value of multi-family permits to more normal levels, following large drops in the previous two months. The decreases in February and March were the result of a large number of permits being pulled forward into January as builders looked to avoid a scheduled fee hike in Metro Vancouver.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Month-to-month change in the value of residential building permits
Month-to-month change in the value of residential building permits

Chart 4  Chart 4: Month-to-month change in the value of non-residential building permits
Month-to-month change in the value of non-residential building permits

Non-residential permits decline

The value of commercial permits was down 21.5% to $1.2 billion in April with the largest decline reported in Quebec (-56.6%), setting another record month-over-month percentage decrease for the province.

Industrial permits fell 34.7% to $377 million following gains in March, with declines posted in six provinces.

Major projects in the form of schools and nursing homes helped drive gains for institutional permits in some parts of the country. However, growth reported in six provinces failed to outweigh sharp declines in Ontario (-46.2%) and Quebec (-28.2%), which pulled the national total down 10.5% to $533 million.

For more information on housing, please visit the Housing Statistics Portal.

To explore the impact of COVID-19 on the socio-economic landscape, please visit the COVID-19 dashboard.

  Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitate 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 permit 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 and 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 house).

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

Commercial buildings: Buildings used in the 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.


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

Trend-cycle estimates have been added to the charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. Both seasonally adjusted data and trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be large and could even lead to a reversal of movement, especially at the end of the series. The higher variability associated with 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.

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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