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Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, April 2023

Released: 2023-06-15

Canadian manufacturing sales increased 0.3% to $72.3 billion in April, mainly on higher sales of motor vehicle parts (+25.1%) and petroleum and coal products (+4.3%). This was the second consecutive monthly increase for the sector. Sales in the primary metal industry (-5.4%) declined the most. On a year-over-year basis, total sales were down 1.6% in April.

Sales in constant dollars rose 0.8% in April, indicating a higher volume of goods sold. The industrial product price index fell 0.2% in April.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Manufacturing sales
Manufacturing sales

Sales increase in the motor vehicle parts industry

Following a 1.7% increase in March, sales of motor vehicle parts increased 25.1% to $3.8 billion in April, the highest level on record. The gains were mainly attributable to a significant increase in sales of engines and other motor vehicle parts in Ontario leading to increased exports of motor vehicle engines and motor vehicle parts (+10.0%). With the gain in April, sales in the motor vehicle parts industry were 41.0% higher compared with April 2022. As the supply chain issues continue to ease, transportation equipment manufacturers were able to increase production in the first four months of 2023 compared with the same months a year earlier to meet market demands and reduce order backlogs.

Sales in the petroleum and coal industry increased 4.3% in April, following two consecutive monthly declines. The increase in sales was driven by higher volumes (+6.0%) as prices for refined petroleum energy products (including liquid biofuels) declined 2.6% in April. Higher petroleum sales in Ontario along with higher production in British Columbia following a maintenance shutdown in previous months contributed the most to the increase in April. Exports of refined petroleum energy products (including liquid biofuels) rose 7.6% in April.

Sales of primary metals decrease the most

Primary metal sales decreased 5.4% to $5.7 billion in April on declines in all primary metal industries, led by the non-ferrous metal (except aluminum) production and processing (-25.5%) and iron and steel mills and ferro-alloy manufacturing (-16.8%) industries. Real sales in the primary metal industry were down 5.8%. While higher demands for precious metals impacted prices of gold (+3.0%) and silver (+12.3%) in April, an unexpected contraction in manufacturing activities in China due to a lack of global demand led to the decrease in primary metal sales. Year-over-year sales in the primary metal industry declined 11.6% in April.

Sales rise in three provinces, led by Ontario

Manufacturing sales increased in three provinces in April, led by Ontario (+1.9%). Quebec posted the largest decline (-1.2%).

Sales in Ontario increased 1.9% to $32.3 billion in April, mainly on higher sales of motor vehicle parts (+26.4%) and petroleum and coal products (+8.4%). The motor vehicle parts industry contributed the most to the higher total sales in Windsor (+10.4%) in April.

In Quebec, sales fell 1.2% to $18.1 billion in April, primarily on a 31.7% decrease in the non-ferrous metal (except aluminum) production and processing industry. Quebec has Canada's biggest non-ferrous metal industry which accounts for about 60% of total sales in Canada. The primary metal industry was mainly responsible for a 3.2% decline in total sales in Montréal in April.

Total inventories are unchanged

Total inventory levels were unchanged at $123.8 billion in April. Higher inventory levels of goods in process (+0.3%) were offset by lower levels of raw materials (-0.1%) and finished products (-0.1%). At the industry level, inventories of the primary metal (+1.9%) and machinery (+1.0%) industries rose in April, while inventory levels declined in the paper product (-4.8%) and other transportation equipment (-10.9%) industries.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Inventory levels are unchanged
Inventory levels are unchanged

The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.72 in March to 1.71 in April. 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 unfilled orders edged down 0.2% to $106.2 billion in April, mostly on lower unfilled orders in the primary metal industry (-8.1%). This was the second consecutive monthly decline in total unfilled orders.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unfilled orders decline
Unfilled orders decline

Capacity utilization rate decreases

The capacity utilization rate (not seasonally adjusted) for the total manufacturing sector fell from 80.9% in March to 77.4% in April due to lower production. Capacity utilization rates were down in 18 of 21 industries, most notably in the transportation equipment (-5.9 percentage points), primary metal (-4.5 percentage points) and fabricated metal product (-6.2 percentage points) industries.

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

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

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 June 22.

Next release

Data from the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing for May will be released on July 14.

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 (

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