Building permits

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January 2012 (Previous release)

The value of building permits fell 12.3% to $6.0 billion in January, following a 10.5% rise in December. The decline was the result of decreases in both residential and non-residential sectors.

Total value of permits

Total value of permits

Chart description: Total value of permits

Contractors took out $4.2 billion worth of permits in the residential sector, down 6.6% following three consecutive monthly gains. The decrease was largely the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Ontario.

Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations.

The Building Permits Survey covers 2,400 municipalities representing 95% of the population. It provides an early indication of building activity.

The communities representing the other 5% of the population are very small, and their levels of building activity have little impact on the total.

The value of planned construction activities shown in this release excludes engineering projects (for example, waterworks, sewers or culverts) and land values.

For the purpose of this release, the census metropolitan area of Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario/Quebec) is divided into two areas: Gatineau part and Ottawa part.


Preliminary data are provided for the current reference month.

With this release, seasonal adjustments were reviewed to take into account the most recent data. Revised seasonally adjusted data for each month in the three previous years are released at the same time as the annual revision to the unadjusted data.

In the non-residential sector, municipalities issued permits worth $1.8 billion, down 23.1%, following a 0.3% increase in December. Non-residential construction intentions declined in six provinces, with Alberta accounting for most of the decrease.

Residential sector: Intentions down for both multi-family and single-family dwellings

The value of building permits for multi-family dwellings decreased 12.4% to $1.7 billion in January, following a 30.8% advance in December. The monthly decrease came from six provinces; Ontario led the decline, with Alberta a distant second. The largest increase was posted in British Columbia, followed by Quebec.

Municipalities issued $2.5 billion worth of permits for single-family dwellings in January, down 2.2% from December, following three consecutive monthly gains. Lower construction intentions in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta more than offset advances in the seven other provinces.

Municipalities across Canada authorized the construction of 17,961 new dwellings in January, down 6.0% from December. The decrease came from multi-family dwellings, which fell 9.5% to 10,510 units. The number of single-family dwellings declined 0.7% to 7,451 units.

Value of residential and non-residential building permits

Value of residential and non-residential building permits

Chart description: Value of residential and non-residential building permits

Non-residential sector declines

Building intentions declined in all three components of the non-residential sector.

In the commercial component, the value of permits declined 22.5% to $1.2 billion, after increasing 1.8% in November and 34.6% in December. The decrease came mostly from Alberta, where the value of permits for office buildings and warehouses declined following notable rises the previous month. Declines were also reported in six other provinces.

In the institutional component, the value of permits decreased 27.9% to $309 million. This was the third consecutive monthly decline and the lowest level since January 2005. The decline was mainly the result of lower construction intentions for educational institutions in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, and medical facilities in Quebec and British Columbia. Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Nova Scotia posted advances.

Industrial building intentions declined for a third consecutive month, falling 20.1% to $274 million. This was a result of lower construction intentions for utilities buildings in Ontario, as well as manufacturing plants in both Quebec and Ontario. Gains registered in five provinces, led by British Columbia, were not enough to offset decreases in the other five.

Permits value down in most provinces

The total value of permits declined in six provinces in January, led by Alberta and Ontario.

Alberta posted the largest decline, which was the result of lower construction intentions for residential, commercial and institutional buildings. The decline in Ontario was the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, which had posted strong gains in December.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador reported increases. In Manitoba, the advance was mainly the result of gains in single-family dwellings and in institutional and industrial buildings.

In Saskatchewan, higher construction intentions for commercial and industrial buildings and single-family dwellings were behind the advances, while in Newfoundland and Labrador, residential and commercial buildings explained the gains.

Value of permits down in more than half of the census metropolitan areas

In January, the total value of permits fell in 18 of the 34 census metropolitan areas.

The largest decreases were in Calgary, Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo and Toronto. In Calgary, the decline came mainly from commercial building permits, which had posted a significant increase in December.

In Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo, the decrease was the result of a reduced value in permits for multi-family dwellings and industrial buildings. The decline in Toronto was the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, institutional buildings and, to a lesser extent, industrial buildings.

Ottawa and Hamilton posted the largest increases. In Ottawa, the advance was the result of higher construction intentions for both the residential and non-residential sectors. In Hamilton, the increase originated from higher construction intentions for single-family dwellings and institutional buildings.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables 026-0001 to 026-0008 and 026-0010.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2802.

The January 2012 issue of Building Permits (64-001-X, free) will soon be available.

The February building permits data will be released on April 5.

To order data, contact Jasmine Gaudreault (toll-free 1-800-579-8533; 613-951-6321; For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Mariane Nozière Bien-Aimé (613-951-7520), Investment, Science and Technology Division.