The Daily
 In the news  Indicators  Releases by subject
 Special interest  Release schedule  Information

Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, March 2023

Released: 2023-05-16

Following a 3.6% decline in February, Canadian manufacturing sales increased 0.7% to $72.3 billion in March, led by the motor vehicle (+8.6%), aerospace product and parts (+18.8%), and primary metal (+4.6%) industries. Sales in the petroleum and coal product industry (-2.0%) declined the most. On a quarterly basis, sales were up 1.4% in the first quarter of 2023, mostly due to higher sales in the transportation equipment industry.

Sales in constant dollars rose 1.1% in March from the previous month, indicating that a higher volume of goods were sold in March.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Manufacturing sales
Manufacturing sales

Motor vehicle sales post the largest increase

Following an 11.8% decline in February, motor vehicle sales increased 8.6% to $4.7 billion in March. With the gain in March, sales stood 19.9% higher year over year, while on a quarterly basis sales increased 17.9% in the first quarter of 2023. Canadian auto manufactures sold nearly 150,000 motor vehicles in March, the most since November 2019. While the industry saw a reduction in supply chain volatility and shortages of semiconductor chips in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the same quarter a year earlier, higher cost of raw materials and higher interest rates impacted prices and demand for new motor vehicles. The average prices of motor vehicles manufactured in Canada were over 20% higher in March compared with the same month a year earlier.

Production of aerospace product and parts increased 18.8% to $2.1 billion in March, the highest level since March 2020. Production in the first quarter of 2023 was up 8.3% accordingly. Some major aerospace companies reported positive net income along with higher revenues and profit in the first quarter due to delivery of multiple aircrafts and sales of other aerospace products and parts.

Sales of primary metals rose 4.6% to $6.0 billion in March on higher prices and volume. Sales rose in all the primary metal industries, but increases were more pronounced in the non-ferrous metal (except aluminum) production and processing industry (+44.5%). Sales of primary metals in real terms were up 3.8% in March. Higher demand and prices for gold (+4.9%) and silver (+1.8%) due to the concerns over the banking crisis in the United States were partially responsible for higher sales in non-ferrous metal manufacturing. On a quarterly basis, total primary metal sales rose 6.0% in the first quarter of 2023.

Sales of petroleum and coal products decline the most

Sales in the petroleum and coal product industry fell 2.0% to $8.7 billion in March on lower prices. This was the second consecutive monthly decline and the lowest level since January 2022. Real sales rose 4.2% in March 2023. Prices for refined petroleum energy products (including liquid biofuels) declined 3.2% in March. The recent declines in prices were partially attributable to the uncertainty over world economic conditions and stress in the banking sector. Exports of refined petroleum energy products (including liquid biofuels) decreased 6.7% in March.

Sales rise in five provinces, led by Quebec and Alberta

Manufacturing sales increased in five provinces in March, led by Quebec (+2.5%) and Alberta (+3.9%). Ontario (-0.4%) posted the largest decline.

Sales in Quebec increased 2.5% to 18.3 billion in March, mainly on higher production in the aerospace product and parts industry (+20.9%), followed by higher sales of primary metals (+6.7%). Both industries contributed to higher total sales in Montréal (+8.4%), as sales of primary metals rose 40.5% and production of aerospace product and parts increased 20.1% in March.

In Alberta, sales were up 3.9% to 9.1 billion in March, mainly on a 20.6% growth in sales of petroleum and coal products. The same industry was also responsible for higher total manufacturing sales in Edmonton (+12.5%).

Total inventories rise to new record

Total inventory levels increased 0.5% to $124.5 billion in March, on higher goods in process (+1.5%) and raw materials (+0.7%). Many of the inventory gains were attributable to high inventories in the computer and electronic product (+8.6%) and primary metal (+1.5%) industries.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Inventory levels rise
Inventory levels rise

The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.73 in February to 1.72 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 decreases
The inventory-to-sales ratio decreases

Unfilled orders decline

Total value of unfilled orders declined 2.2% to $106.2 billion in March, primarily driven by lower unfilled orders in the aerospace product and parts (-2.3%) and machinery (-3.6%) industries.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unfilled orders decline
Unfilled orders decline

Capacity utilization rate increases

The capacity utilization rate (not seasonally adjusted) for the manufacturing sector rose from 77.5% in February to 81.3% in March, on higher production. The growth in capacity utilization rates was noticeable in the transportation equipment (+8.5 percentage points) and primary metal (+3.5 percentage points) industries.

Chart 5  Chart 5: The capacity utilization rate increases
The capacity utilization rate increases

Sustainable development goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the following 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 sustainable development goals. This release will be used to help measure the following goal:

  Note to readers

Starting with the May 2023 release of March data, estimates of sales of goods manufactured, inventories and orders in tables 16-10-0047-01, 16-10-0048-01 and 16-10-0011-01 have been revised back to January 2020 for unadjusted data, and back to January 2018 for seasonally adjusted data.

Real manufacturing sales, orders, inventory owned and inventory-to-sales ratio estimates in table 16-10-0013-01 have been revised back to January 2002, reflecting a change in the base year from 2012 to 2017.

Unadjusted estimates of capacity utilization rates, in table 16-10-0012-01, have been revised back to January 2020.

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

Seasonally adjusted data are data that have been modified to eliminate the effect of seasonal and calendar influences to allow for more meaningful comparisons of economic conditions from period to period. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Trend-cycle estimates are included in selected charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. These data represent a smoothed version of the seasonally adjusted time series and provide information on longer-term movements, including changes in direction underlying the series. For information on trend-cycle data, see Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

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 for reference months near the end of the series or during periods of economic disruption.

Non-durable goods industries include food; beverage and tobacco products; textile mills; textile product mills; apparel; 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 monthly 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 working 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 previous three 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 May 23.

Next release

Data from the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing for April will be released on June 15.

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 (

Date modified: