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StatsCan building permits report: April 2020

June 1, 2020  By Stats Canada

The total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities plummeted 17.1% to $6.0 billion in April. The decrease in April was the largest decline since a similar drop in October 2008 during the financial crisis. When combined with the March decline, the value of building permits has fallen by 28.1% from February levels.

Declines were reported in eight provinces, with the largest in Quebec (-34.1%) and Ontario (-20.0%). Although most municipalities were still issuing permits in April, Quebec’s decision to shut down non-essential construction activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to it posting its largest month-over-month percentage decline on record.

Record declines for single family permits

The total value of residential permits was down in nine provinces in April, falling 14.2% to $3.9 billion nationally.

Using comparable data available back to 2002, permits issued for single family dwellings fell 35.9% to $1.4 billion, a record month-over-month decline and almost double the next largest decrease. Prince Edward Island (-84.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-52.5%), Ontario (-50.8%), Manitoba (-37.1%) and Quebec (-29.4%) all recorded their largest month-over-month percentage declines in the current series.

Multi-family dwellings was the only component to show an increase at the national level in April, up 4.8% to $2.6 billion. Increased building intentions in the census metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa led to gains in British Columbia (+66.8%) and Ontario (+13.9%), which more than offset declines in six provinces. The gains in British Columbia returned the value of multi-family permits to more normal levels, following large drops in the previous two months. The decreases in February and March were the result of a large number of permits being pulled forward into January as builders looked to avoid a scheduled fee hike in Metro Vancouver.

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