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Building permits, October 2013

Released: 2013-12-05

Municipalities issued building permits worth $7.2 billion in October, up 7.4% from September. This followed a 4.1% rise in the previous month. The total value of permits showed a slight upward trend on the strength of eight monthly increases since the beginning of the year.

The increase in October resulted from higher construction intentions for both the residential and non-residential sectors, principally in Ontario.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table
Total value of permits

Chart 1: Total value of permits - Description and data table

Construction intentions in the residential sector posted their second straight monthly increase, rising 6.4% to $4.4 billion, the highest level since May 2013. Higher construction intentions were registered in six provinces, led by Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Alberta had the largest decline.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits rose 9.0% to $2.8 billion, the sixth monthly increase since the beginning of the year. Gains were posted in half the provinces, with Ontario and Saskatchewan responsible for most of the increases. Quebec registered the largest decline.

Residential sector: Ontario posts significant gains in both multi-family and single-family dwellings

Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 8.4% to $2.0 billion, a second consecutive monthly advance. This gain was the result of higher construction intentions for apartments and apartment-condominiums in four provinces, with Ontario and Quebec accounting for much of the growth. Alberta posted the largest decrease.

The value of building permits for single-family dwellings increased 4.7% to $2.4 billion in October. This was the second consecutive monthly increase. Gains in five provinces, led by Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, more than offset declines in the other five provinces. Quebec had the largest decline, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick.

Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 18,823 new dwellings, up 6.9% from September. This increase was attributable to multi-family dwellings, which rose 12.2% to 12,465 units. Meanwhile, the number of single-family dwellings fell 2.1% to 6,358 units.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table
Residential and non-residential sectors

Chart 2: Residential and non-residential sectors - Description and data table

Non-residential sector: Strong increase in the commercial component

The value of non-residential building permits was up in October as a result of a strong increase in construction intentions for commercial buildings.

Construction intentions for commercial buildings rose 22.0% to $1.8 billion, the highest level since July 2013 and the third increase in four months. The advance came from higher construction intentions in a variety of commercial buildings, including recreational facilities, office buildings, warehouses, and hotels and restaurants. Gains were posted in six provinces, with Ontario registering the largest advance, followed by Manitoba, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Alberta, in turn, posted the largest decline.

In the industrial component, the value of permits edged up 0.5% to $495 million. The increase followed two months of declines and was the result of higher construction intentions for transportation-related buildings and utilities buildings, as well as primary industry buildings. Construction intentions for industrial buildings were up in half the provinces and two territories.

In the institutional component, the value of permits fell 15.2% to $516 million, the lowest level since February 2013. The decline followed an 11.3% increase in September and was the third decrease in four months. The value of institutional building permits was down in seven provinces. British Columbia and Quebec accounted for much of the decrease, primarily as a result of lower construction intentions for medical facilities and educational institutions. Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan recorded large increases.

Provinces: Ontario posts the largest advance

The total value of permits was up in four provinces in October, with Ontario leading the way, followed by Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Ontario had the largest advance by far, with substantial gains in commercial and multi-family construction intentions.

The gain in Saskatchewan resulted primarily from higher construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings, while in Manitoba, commercial buildings were behind the increase.

The largest drop occurred in Quebec, with institutional and industrial buildings accounting for most of the decline.

Higher construction intentions in most census metropolitan areas

In October, construction intentions were up in 19 of Canada's 34 census metropolitan areas.

The largest increases were in Toronto, followed by St. Catharines–Niagara and Ottawa. In Toronto, the advance was principally attributable to commercial buildings and multi-family dwellings. The gain in St. Catharines–Niagara was the result of higher construction intentions for both non-residential and residential buildings. In Ottawa, the increase came from residential and commercial buildings.

Conversely, the largest declines in the total value of building permits occurred in Québec, followed by Edmonton and Oshawa. Lower construction intentions in all components, except institutional buildings, explained the decrease in Québec. In Edmonton, the decline originated from multi-family and single-family dwellings, as well as institutional buildings. In Oshawa, institutional buildings were mainly responsible for the decrease.

  Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

The Building Permits Survey covers 2,400 municipalities representing 95% of the population. It provides a leading indicator of construction 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 for the entire population.

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

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.


Data for the current reference month are subject to revision based on late responses. Data have been revised for the previous month.

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

The October 2013 issue of Building Permits (Catalogue number64-001-X) will soon be available.

The November building permits data will be released on January 9, 2014.

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 Jeremie Bennett (613-951-0793), Investment, Science and Technology Division.

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