Canada Sees Notable Drop in Building Permits in March

While there is a push to build more homes nationwide, the country saw a marked decline in building permits in March from February.

According to Statistics Canada, building permits in the residential market fell 8.3 per cent per cent month-over-month to $6.5 billion.

Ontario drove the monthly drop for both single-family and multi-family dwelling permits, down 13.7 per cent or $377.4 million. But despite the overall downturn, the residential sector grew in Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Manitoba.

Across Canada, 16,800 new multi-unit dwellings and 4,200 new single-family homes were authorized in March. From April 2023 to March 2024, a total of 260,200 new units were approved.

In the non-residential market, construction intentions decreased 16.7 per cent to $4 billion, compared to February. Declines were observed in the industrial and institutional sectors. The commercial sector tempered the declines by growing 5.8 per cent to $2.2 billion.

On a constant dollar basis, the total value of building permits fell 11.6 per cent to $10.5 billion in March, following two consecutive months of increases to start off the year.

Looking at the first quarter of 2024, the total value of building permits was $33.4 billion, a 3.7 per cent increase from the previous quarter. This represents a partial rebound from the fourth quarter of 2023, which was the lowest quarterly total value since the third quarter of 2021. The growth was driven by British Columbia, which posted significant gains in the commercial and industrial non-residential components, and in the multi-unit residential sector.

Construction intentions in the non-residential sector increased 6.9 per cent to $13 billion in the first quarter, led by the commercial component, up 22.3 per cent to $6.6 billion — the highest level of the previous four quarters. Growth was driven by permits for office buildings. Overall, nine provinces and territories reported increases in commercial construction intentions, led by Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

The value of residential building permits edged up 1.8 per cent during the same time period. Growth in the multi-unit sector was partially offset by declines in the single-family homes sector.

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