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Investment in non-residential building construction, first quarter 2015

Released: 2015-04-16

Investment in non-residential building construction decreased 1.2% to $12.9 billion in the first quarter, following three consecutive quarters of growth. This decline was largely the result of lower spending on the construction of commercial buildings.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Investment in non-residential building construction - Description and data table
Investment in non-residential building construction

Chart 1: Investment in non-residential building construction - Description and data table

Overall, investment decreased in eight provinces in the first quarter. The largest decline was in Ontario, where investment fell 2.0% to $4.9 billion as a result of lower spending on commercial buildings.

Alberta and British Columbia were the only provinces to register gains. In Alberta, the gain was due to increases in the institutional and industrial components, while in British Columbia, it resulted from higher spending on institutional buildings.

Census metropolitan areas

Investment was down in 20 of the 34 census metropolitan areas in the first quarter. The largest decline occurred in Ottawa, followed by Saskatoon. In Ottawa, the decrease was attributable to commercial spending, while the decline in Saskatoon came largely from lower spending in commercial and institutional buildings.

Conversely, the largest advances were reported in Edmonton and Vancouver. In Edmonton, the increase resulted from higher investment in the construction of institutional and commercial buildings, while in Vancouver investment advanced in all three components, mainly institutional buildings.

Commercial component

Investment in the commercial component declined 1.9% to $7.7 billion. This was the second consecutive quarterly decrease in the component and was mainly the result of lower spending on the construction of retail and wholesale outlets and recreational buildings.

Ontario posted the largest decrease, as investment fell 4.0% to $2.9 billion, the third consecutive quarterly decline. The decrease was mainly attributable to lower spending on the construction of retail and wholesale outlets, recreational buildings and warehouses.

Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador posted increases, as a result of higher spending spread among several commercial building categories.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Commercial, institutional and industrial components - Description and data table
Commercial, institutional and industrial components

Chart 2: Commercial, institutional and industrial components - Description and data table

Industrial component

Investment in industrial projects decreased in six provinces in the first quarter, down 0.7% to $1.6 billion, following two consecutive quarters of growth. The decrease was mainly attributable to lower spending on the construction of primary industry buildings and, to a lesser extent, utilities buildings.

The largest contributor to the decline in the first quarter was Quebec, where investment fell 5.4% to $263 million, marking the sixth consecutive quarter of decline. The decrease resulted from lower spending in the construction of manufacturing plants, maintenance buildings and primary industry facilities.

The largest increase occurred in Alberta, where industrial building construction spending rose 4.0% to $374 million, mostly as a result of higher investment for maintenance buildings and, to a certain degree, manufacturing plants as well as utilities buildings.

Institutional component

In the institutional component, investment edged up 0.1% to $3.5 billion, a fourth consecutive quarterly increase. The growth observed among several categories of institutional buildings, including medical facilities, nursing homes and retirement residences, more than offset the decline at educational institutions.

Alberta and British Columbia were the major contributors to the increase in institutional building construction investment. The advance in Alberta resulted mainly from higher spending on the construction of educational institutions and cultural centres, while the increase in British Columbia was led by higher spending for health care facilities.

In contrast, Quebec registered the largest decrease, where spending on institutional buildings declined 2.0% to $941 million, following six consecutive quarters of growth. The decline in this component was the result of lower spending on the construction of educational buildings.


  Note to readers

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data expressed in current dollars, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Investments in non-residential building construction exclude engineering construction (such as for highways, sewers, bridges and oil and gas pipelines). This series is based on the Building Permits Survey of municipalities, which collects information on construction intentions.

Work put-in-place patterns are assigned to each type of structure (industrial, commercial and institutional). These work patterns are used to distribute the value of building permits according to project length. Work put-in-place patterns differ according to the value of the construction project; a project worth several million dollars will usually take longer to complete than will a project of a few hundred thousand dollars.

Additional data from the Capital and Repair Expenditures Survey are used to create this investment series. Investments in non-residential building data are also benchmarked to Statistics Canada's System of National Accounts' non-residential building investment series.

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

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Bechir Oueriemmi (bechir.oueriemmi@statcan.gc.ca; 613-951-1165), Investment, Science and Technology Division.

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